The immersive digitization of Mark Zuckenberg

The metaverse is conceived as a digital environment that people can access as avatars. Although it may seem like a concept taken from science fiction, the truth is that since Mark Zuckenberg revealed his company’s creation of this type of digital space, we have begun to wonder what that virtual world would be like and what advantages (and disadvantages) it would be. would offer to the population.

In this way, the healthcare field is no stranger to the potential offered by the appearance of this digital universe. Since we started our adventure in TRAK we have defended the concept of digitization. And, through it, digital health. Both direct precursors of this digital utopia.

The opportunity offered by 5G and mobile technology, as well as the expanded universe of the Internet, open the door to concepts that we promote every day, such as telemonitoring, remote treatment of our patients or interprofessional communication of the different medical disciplines could be revolutionized by the arrival of the virtual universe of the founder of Facebook.

What advantages does the metaverse offer to the healthcare field?

We must analyze it and consider it another channel of communication and doctor-patient interaction, but not stop there. Let’s not forget that we are talking about virtual solutions for very real problems: pathologies and the promotion of changes in the lifestyle of the population.

In line with the possibilities offered at the level of information exchange, training and interprofessional communication, the metaverse can have very interesting applications in an academic field such as the simulation of clinical situations, in which users have to interact in a medical setting, even with a simulated patient.

The monitoring of constants, the telematic control of treatments or the remote assessment of patients that offer the possibility of establishing a valid diagnosis, leaving face-to-face aside, are some of the applications that have appeared in recent years and that provide the possibility of universalizing the medical service and increasing its range of action. What we have called in other blog posts digital hospitals.

It will provide a virtual space and applications that facilitate interaction with patients through an avatar, without any risk to health and without the need for the person to travel to the consultation or medical center.

As we have already said on occasion, technology does not come to replace the health professional, but rather to broaden their range of action and to enhance some of their attitudes, such as communication or access to therapies and training, as well as increasing the possibilities of remote self-care for patients and people living with chronic illnesses.

What would be its application in telerehabilitation or digital rehabilitation?

The appearance of medical applications or applications for physiotherapists that has occurred in recent years, partly thanks to the pandemic, demonstrates the implementation of a trend that warns of a change in the action model of habitual clinical practice.

Currently we can find forms of treatment through virtual reality that are carried out in clinics and hospital centers for the recovery of the functionality of the patients, but it is only the beginning of the change.

In the future, we could witness the birth of completely virtual rehabilitation consultations and services in which a complete physiotherapy intervention can be carried out without the patient leaving their home. Always remembering that we are scientists and health professionals who follow a protocol model in the search for respect and the well-being of the patient.

Is all that glitters gold?

However, the reality is that the Metaverse is seen more as an element to advertise the products and services of hospitals, private clinics, pharmacies, universities, pharmaceutical companies and all kinds of health companies, than as a tool that improves and guarantees the clinical assistance.

In addition, there are still many obstacles to the creation of an effective digital health model that is close to the idea of ​​metaverse described by experts, such as the attitude of the population towards ‘online’ treatments or the inequality of access to elements of reality. virtual whose price continues to be prohibitive.

So what are the drawbacks?

Dr. Kremlin Wickramasinghe, acting head of the WHO European Office for the Environment, Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases, according to the European Times magazine that “spending more time online connected to the metaverse with devices can reduce levels of physical activity and give advertisers many more ways to promote unhealthy products like junk food, tobacco or alcohol.”

Some psychology experts think that the appearance of these immersive digital worlds could worsen the situation and behavior of people who exhibit addictive behavior with the use of video games or social networks or increase the problems of those who suffer from adaptation problems or have a tendency to compulsive behaviors.

They would aggravate some psycho-social problems such as the well-known “Hikikomori Syndrome”, a severe form of asocial and avoidant behavior closely related to this type of virtual experience. A disorder that affects young people who lock themselves in their rooms continuously, where they reject real interaction.

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