They are “the next horizon” in healthcare, says Accenture Digital Health Technology Vision 2022 report.
More than eight in 10 healthcare executives expect the metaverse to have a positive impact on the healthcare industry, according to a report from Accenture.
The Accenture Digital Health Technology Vision 2022 report called the metaverse “the next horizon” in healthcare, where surgical teams can learn new procedures without having to be physically in the same operating room.
Another application could be found in secure authentication, for example, a traveling patient being able to securely provide their medical information to a caregiver without having to authenticate with a physician.
“In healthcare, today’s biggest opportunity is capitalizing on the potential of the space in between the real and fully virtual worlds,” Kaveh Safavi, a senior managing director in Accenture Health, told Healthcare Finance News.
He added it’s helpful to think about augmented reality and its ability to layer digital information on top of clinicians’ real-world experience – or augmenting medical students’ training with more effective hands-on learning.
Safavi said he was surprised to see that nearly all the healthcare executives in the survey said they believed continuous advances in technology are becoming more reliable than economic, political or social trends in informing their organizations’ long-term strategies.
He pointed out that healthcare executives say IT/security breaches are their primary concern – 64% of those surveyed – particularly deepfakes or other disinformation attacks.
“As the healthcare industry scales up programmable world projects, it will introduce many more connected, intelligent devices, creating new entry points connecting our physical and digital worlds,” he said. “But there are significant challenges to connecting these technologies safely and at scale – data interoperability and cybersecurity.”
Significantly, risks to cybersecurity and data privacy will not be relegated to the digital world but will have serious consequences in the physical world, too.
That means healthcare organizations need the right channel, source, policies and governance in place to have trustworthy data. Safavi explained many have one or two pieces of the puzzle but are missing the other crucial pieces.
“Join in consortiums and industry standards groups to shape governance, data interoperability and cybersecurity standards,” he said. “From an interoperability perspective, this could mean participating in ecosystem-wide efforts to set standards for how devices connect and communicate in healthcare.”
WHY THIS MATTERS
The convergence of technologies – such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) – is reshaping human experiences in new and innovative ways.
Over the coming years, these new experiences will transform health delivery, from operating clinical trials to coordinating patient experiences and creating new ways to serve the patient.
A VR therapeutic program reduces pain intensity up to six months later, compared with a sham app, according to a study recently published in JMIR.
THE LARGER TREND
Some experts believe the metaverse will alter the healthcare landscape significantly. One function would be for “digital twins,” a virtual model, or simulation, generated using real-world data with the purpose of learning more about the real-world counterpart.
Cathy Hackl, chief metaverse officer, Futures Intelligence Group, said at ATA2022 that this bio digital twin can be used to test experimental treatments.
In March, CVS Health said it wants to trademark its logo and establish an online store, as well as create downloadable virtual goods. CVS also wants to transition some of its in-store health services to a virtual setting, such as non-emergency medical treatment services, wellness programs, nutrition advisory services, and health lifestyle and nutrition counseling.
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