August 12, 2022 — Called by some the next iteration of the Internet, the Metaverse is an unfamiliar digital world where avatars navigate computer-generated locations and interact with other users in real time. can be In this space, the constraints of our physical, brick-and-mortar world and travel habits fade away, creating new opportunities and challenges.
At the College of Connecticut Health in Farmington, a doctor-in-training gets his first taste of what life is like in such a futuristic place when a resident is given a virtual reality headset for the first time. did.
At a historic moment, orthopedic surgeries were largely put on hold due to COVID-19 pandemicsaid Olga Solovyova, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of orthopedics at UConn Health.
Residents can now put on goggles and see their avatar (a digital representation of themselves) in a virtual operating room complete with tables, instruments, and virtual patients. They manipulate the instrument with a controller, feel resistance as they look at or drill through the bone, and feel the pressure drop when they cut completely.
In VR, you can also peel off virtual layers of skin and muscle for a better view. Bone Under. Training modules provide feedback on how well students have completed the steps and track their progress.
“Classically, it was always a ‘look, do, teach’ mentality: first look, then practice, then teach others,” says Solovyova. Residents can now practice repeatedly on their own in a safe environment while receiving expert feedback.
It can also perform rare surgeries that might not occur in real patients, Solovyova says.
Such training in digital environments like the Metaverse is starting to become more common in other surgical residency programs in the United States, she says.
Some aspects of the metaverse (a term that is just beginning to enter the conversation) already exist, like VR training. telemedicine and 3D printing.
Last year, Facebook’s announcement of rebranding as Meta sparked curiosity about the concept. Although defined differently, the metaverse at its core is a combination of VR, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (where unrelated devices communicate with each other), quantum computing, and several other technologies. A space that bridges the physical and digital worlds. .
A report by industry trend analyst Gartner predicts: 25% of the world’s people By 2026, we will spend at least an hour a day in the Metaverse, whether we work, shop, educate, or entertain.
And today’s wearable technology allows people to monitor their vitals and give doctors real-time data updates. Barry Issenberg, MD, director of the Gordon Center for Simulation and Innovation in Medical Education at the University of Miami , says that electronic health records in the metaverse will likely become living documents updated from sensors in clothing and furniture, phone apps and wearable devices.
Instead of people coming to the clinic, taking tests, and having the test values interpreted, doctors already have many images in the data uploaded.
This, he says, helps address a common complaint that using electronic medical records can make a doctor’s appointment strained by being distracted by entering information into a template.
Physicians can also set the parameters of the abnormality so that the patient blood pressure If you get too high or detect gait abnormalities, your doctor will be notified so they can be more proactive. preventive care.
People can also get information in real time, so they can focus more on taking care of themselves, Issenberg said.
In Miami, clinicians are using virtual tools to collaborate with community first responders. You can use a stethoscope to show it to your learners.For example, it can indicate the anatomy that lies under the chest, so that the respondent heart Pumping — You can see on the screen while you hear the sound.
Issenberg says the Bascom-Palmer Eye Institute in Miami has developed personal goggles that allow doctors to detect a patient’s visual response. The goggles are sent to patients with vision problems so doctors can perform tests without them coming to the center.
A major obstacle to adopting the Metaverse is an issue that has also hindered progress in the use of electronic medical records. Healthcare systems use a variety of technologies that often do not communicate with each other.
The Metaverse will find more seamless connectivity with large, contained systems like the Veterans Administration, Kaiser Permanente and the Mayo Clinic, says Issenberg.
Also, clinical trial recruitment, patient engagement and monitoring could be different in the Metaverse, said Dr. Nimita Limaye, research vice president of life sciences R&D strategies at International Data Corp., Needham, Massachusetts. said.
Digital access to clinical trials
Many of the challenges associated with clinical trial Patients may not follow instructions or may drop out of the study due to the high strain on the patient. Surveys can be long and difficult to fill out.
Virtual assistants can issue medication reminders, ask patients how they are feeling each day, read out questions to people, and record responses for investigators.
“I don’t think it’s too far away,” said Limaye, noting that voice commands are much more convenient than downloading and using an app, especially for older people with poor eyesight.
Amazon Web Services is already working with voice and chatbot solutions Alexa and Amazon Lex to improve clinical trial participation, reduce dropout rates, and improve the quality of recorded data.
One day, Limaye said, people with certain diseases and conditions will be able to ask a virtual assistant, such as Alexa, what clinical trials are available.
Exclusion and inclusion criteria can be built into the technology, and the virtual assistant can return a list of attempts and instructions on how to sign up.
COVID-19 Limaye has already changed clinical trials and made it more common for people to participate from home through telemedicine, home care nurses, wearables and direct-to-patient delivery of medicines and devices. said.
“The life sciences industry has seen a proof of concept that the technology works in clinical trials,” she says.
Limaye adds that as technology advances, equitable access will become important.
Few people can afford sophisticated virtual reality headsets yet, she notes, but other solutions may become more widely available.