Metaverse could be as transformative as it is risky for healthcare: 4 things to know

What was once a hypothesized iteration of what the internet could be, the metaverse aims to reimagine it as a 3D experience. Although the metaverse might be transformative for healthcare, it can also introduce new risks, Politico reported Nov. 17.

Four things to know:

  1. Through avatar-based worlds and virtual reality, the metaverse has the potential to jumpstart an innovative era for healthcare, Albert Rizzo, PhD, director for medical VR at USC's Institute for Creative Technologies in Los Angeles, told Politico.

  2. However, Dr. Rizzo said a metaverse puts patients' privacy concerns back into the spotlight because people tend to be less cautious when they're using VR.

    "There’s a hell of a lot more going on when you’re interacting in an embodied way in a metaverse context," Dr. Rizzo told Politico. Without privacy protections, he compared it to "having a drone following you around in real life, monitoring everything you do, and then passing that information on to whoever."

  3. Adam Gazzaley, MD, PhD, founder of Neuroscape at the University of California San Francisco, which studies how VR can be used to improve memory, attention and decision-making, told Politico he is optimistic about the patient experience in the metaverse. He said patients might be able to drop into hospitals or research experiments in a way unavailable through apps.

  4. However, Dr. Gazzaley noted that a metaverse can have negative consequences regardless of whether it's hosted in a completely virtual environment.

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