Metaverse and health: a premature revolution?

If there’s one topic that’s been ringing in the media for weeks, it’s the Metaverse. Considered the next digital revolution, the metaverse is shaking up the companies that embrace it.

But for the general public it’s something else entirely, the metaverse, described as “the future of the internet”, is quite obscure and its fame is still quite relative. In fact, 75% of the French express fear in relation to the metaverse, according to the survey carried out in January 2022 by Ifop for the innovation consultancy Talan.

The metaverse concerned health: késako?

It is a fictional, shared and persistent virtual world, accessible online, where each individual can move and interact in different communities in the form of an avatar.

In healthcare, the metaverse will undoubtedly have a significant impact within a few years. At the same time on the aspect of medical education, the path of the patient, surgery or even for the management of pathologies such as the management of phobias. It could provide solutions to meet tomorrow’s many challenges. It will, for example, make it possible to create meetings between patients and healthcare professionals in a virtual place such as a hospital or doctor’s office. The patient no longer has to travel and will follow his treatment at home, will have access to expertise and discuss with his doctor in this shared virtual reality space.

In a context of global aging of the population, it will provide a real answer to the overcrowding of hospitals, emergencies, but also to medical desertification.

But let’s not get too blinded… this technology of the future will not replace real-world patient care, much less the clinical evaluation and human contact that we know are essential in these care professions. Rather, it will be seen as one tool among many others to meet tomorrow’s challenges.

A virtual medical world: myth or reality?

The pandemic has really accelerated the digitization of health thanks to the development of telemedicine, teleconsultation platforms or even health applications… proving that man is able to adapt to these new connected tools.

But above all, this health crisis has exposed the deep flaws of our health care system: lack of nursing staff, hospital tensions, acute crisis… topics hammered home by prime time journalists.

Under the spotlight, the media offered new innovative media (podcast, live blog, videos, etc.) to stand out and make the mass of information more accessible and educational. And the challenge was terrifying! The various media positions taken by doctors and politicians, which have multiplied their intervention on television sets, have created a real “hustle” and real mistrust. Between passion and scandal, conspiracy theory and apocalyptic figures, the French were confused by this ultra-massive media coverage… The epidemic generated, in the evening news of the major channels (TF1, France 2, France 3, Arte and M6 ), almost 8,500 subjects during the first half of 2020, i.e. “50 subjects on average per day” according to a study published in Ina Media Review. A disproportionate number…

Better communication to protect practitioners and health structures: a necessity!

Health professionals must become aware of the impact of communication and accept training. You need to know how to get out of your universe and scientific environment to communicate effectively. Communication is not innate, it is worked on and requires training in the same way as a medical technique. Media training, simulations, interviews in front of the camera, speaking out on social networks, the panel of “good practice” is wide and so is room for improvement. Health is everyone’s business and its themes, which can affect each of us in the most intimate way, are emotional factors and therefore controversies! And in a context as regulated and sensitive as health, in this area where the legal system is exploding, uncontrolled communication can quickly turn into a crisis.

To avoid putting yourself at risk when you speak up, wherever necessary, and to protect the structures you work in as well as their reputations, you need to be trained! The French are calling for health professionals who are more human and who communicate better, and this is good, because it proves the public’s interest in health.

Laying the foundation, simplifying the discourse, avoiding medical jargon, listening and creating a genuine relationship of trust, this is the key to successful “health communication”. By innovating elsewhere in the metaverse, why not?

The metaverse: an added value for health communication?

The metaverse obviously constitutes a new universe for communication, in the same way as social media or media relations. But to integrate it into future communication strategies, which are more creative and imaginative, a few inputs are necessary: ​​understanding communication, mastering its techniques, training communicators, creating a reliable and safe framework… Yes, the perspectives of the metaverse are enormous, but there is a big challenge: knowing how to adapt to all targets and in particular people furthest away from digital technology, such as the elderly.

The virtualized medical world is already fully present in the healthcare field and will become even more significant in the near future. At a time when Mrs. Cynthia Fleury, holder of the chair of philosophy at Saint-Anne Hospital, declares “care is a humanism”, it is completely paradoxical to expect the metaverse to be a tool of greater -value in the field of health, or even to restore the link ? We hear that we urgently need to reconnect with “real life”…

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