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Metaverse and health, a range of possibilities

It is also one of the first competitions on this subject at world level and, according to experts, the metaverse opens up a whole range of possibilities, especially for the training of students and/or, for example, the treatment of phobias and other mental health disorders.

To find out what the metaverse is and what specific benefits it can have on our health, we spoke to José Martínez Olmos, professor at the Andalusian School of Public Health and former Secretary General of Health at the Ministry of Health (2005-2011).

First of all to say that the word metaverse is an acronym composed from the Greek prefix “meta” (beyond) and the contraction of universe (verse).

In practice it is a digital world accessed through virtual reality and augmented reality devices, so the interaction within this world is very similar to what we have in reality.

Thus, this virtual world allows, for example, and through an avatar (virtual identity), to talk with friends, work with our colleagues, visit places, or live completely realistic experiences, without the need to move from the place.

As one of those responsible for the celebration of this I Congress on health in the metaverse (HealthCare Congress in the metaverse), Martínez Olmos points first a the improvement of humanization in healthcare.

And this is so because the metaverse will allow virtual visits from relatives to hospitalized patients and vice versa, either in general hospitalization or in intensive care units.

Thinking about covid, the metaverse would have been very useful at the time when no relatives could visit their sick or those relatives.

The new virtual reality, applied to health, has above all an unquestionable advantage in terms of the student training.

Just as pilots learn in flight simulators, students in the health sector will also have their “simulators” in this virtual reality to learn how, for example, a surgical intervention is carried out, or how to proceed in the face of any contingency in a ICU.

All this, of course, without any risk, since it is a virtual event, but one that is experienced in a very, very real way.

But the metaverse is not only useful for students of Medicine, Nursing or Physiotherapy, it can also be very practical for professionals who exercise their activity in the health sector; in training, for example, of emergency equipment or management of hospitals in the face of possible contingencies.

In fact, one of the subjects included in the congress program will address how to generate quality remote assistance in the face of the possibility of having to close or reduce employment in hospital plants or care units, or simply close them, to save on air conditioning

This measure could allow a saving in energy consumption in the face of the difficulties we may encounter in the winter, due to the war in Ukraine.

Navigating the metaverse. PHOTO EFE/ Quique García

Treatment of phobias

The metaverse can also be very useful to remotely support the work of nurses or assistants in areas without medical professionals or due to a shortage of these resources at a given time.

Some of the indicated applications are already carried out in hospitals, as well support for rehabilitation and physiotherapy therapies, or in the treatment of phobias, addictions or mental health disorders.

Therapies using avatars, experts point out, help these patients feel less afraid or ashamed.

Its application in oncological pain and palliative care and as a means of entertaining and reducing the anxiety of children facing a medical procedure is also being investigated.

Lifestyles and child nutrition are other fields that may have a bright future in the metaverse.

In the opinion of Martínez Olmos, the metaverse has a lot of potential in the health sector and he estimates that within five years there will be many hospitals with metaverse spaces.

He also believes that to the extent that it is more widespread in other areas, such as, for example, leisure and commerce, it will always be easier to implement it in other sectors.

And health, experts point out, is one of them. It should be noted that it will also facilitate participation and interaction with other professionals and other hospital services other than where the patient and the care team are located.

In addition, we must not forget that the metaverse will be able to benefit from the European fund in Spain Next Generationwhich aims to promote the application of digitization throughout the European Union.

Currently, companies in the health sector are developing numerous initiatives that will be explained at the congress, which will have a space of biomedical innovation startups.

Metaverse and health, first congress

HealthCare Congress al metaverso is an initiative of Hospital Metaverso, under the direction of a team composed of Leyre Martin as head of the Medical Directorate, Sarah Martinez as CEO and Jose Martínez Olmos as head of Institutional Relations.

For their organization they have the collaboration of Uttopionthe first Spanish metaverse pioneer in segmenting its content into qualitative communities.

Sponsored by Valencian businessman Juan Roig (Mercadona), Uttopion currently has two spaces: Musichood Spain for music and Sportsvilla Spain for sport

In them, brands and content creators from all sectors can connect with their audience in customizable virtual spaces that are acquired as NFT (non-fungible asset) and whose ownership is backed by blockchain technology, which is what generates a shared database to which its participants have access.

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