The Metaverse and Health: A Premature Revolution?

If there’s one topic that’s been buzzing 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 quite another thing, that metaverse, described as “the future of the Internet”, is quite obscure and its fame is still quite relative. Indeed, 75% of the French express fear in front of the metaverse, according to the study carried out in January 2022 by Ifop for the Talan innovation consulting firm.

Metaverse applied to health: késako?

It is an imaginary, shared and continuous virtual world accessible on the Internet, in which any individual can move and interact within different communities in the form of an avatar.

In the field of health, the metaverse will undoubtedly have a significant impact in a few years. At the same time in terms of medical training, the patient’s path, surgery or even for the management of pathologies such as the management of phobias. It can provide solutions to meet the many challenges of tomorrow. For example, it will make it possible to create appointments between patients and healthcare professionals in a virtual location such as a hospital or doctor’s office. The patient will no longer have to travel and will follow his treatment at home, have access to expertise and discuss with his doctor in this space of virtual reality common.

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

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

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… thus proving that man is capable of adapting to these new connected tools.

But this health crisis has highlighted above all the deep shortcomings of our health system: the lack of caregivers, the tension in the hospital, the emergency crisis… topics hit home by journalists in the first time.

Under the spotlight, the media offered innovative new media (podcast, liveblog, video, etc.) to stand out and make the mass of information more accessible and educational. And the challenge was daunting! The different media attitudes of doctors and politicians, who have multiplied their interventions on televisions, have created a “confusion” and a real mistrust. Between passion and scandal, conspiracy theory and apocalyptic figures, the French were confused by this ultramassive media coverage… The epidemic generated, on the evening news of the main channels (TF1, France 2, France 3, Arte and M6), nearly 8500 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 figure…

Better communication to protect health care practitioners and structures: a must!

Health professionals should be made aware of the impact of communication and receive training. You need to know how to get out of your universe and your 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 on social networks, the panel of “good practices” is extensive and so is the room for improvement. Health is everyone’s business and its topics, which can affect each of us in the most intimate way, are factors of emotion and therefore controversy! And in a context as regulated and sensitive as health, in this area where the judicial system is exploding, uncontrolled communication can quickly turn into a crisis.

To avoid danger when speaking up, however necessary, and to protect the structures within which you work and their reputation, get trained! The French are calling for health professionals who are more humane and who communicate better, and this is good, because it shows the population’s interest in health.

Laying the groundwork, simplifying the discourse, avoiding medical jargon, listening and creating a true relationship of trust, this is the key to successful “healthy” communication. Innovating elsewhere in the metaverse, why not?

Metaverse: an added value for health communication?

The metaverse undoubtedly 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, several inputs are needed: understanding communication, mastering its techniques, training communicators, creating a reliable and safe framework. .. Indeed, the prospects of the metaverse are great, but there is a great challenge: knowing how to adapt to all targets and in particular to people who are further from digital technology, such as the elderly.

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

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