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Virtual clinics for mental health, nutrition – why the hospital chain has taken the metaverse leap

New Delhi: It’s billed as the future of human interaction, and soon you could have your doctor’s appointment in the metaverse – all you’d have to do is create a virtual avatar and use it to enter. in a 3D clinic.

Taking the first step in this direction, Hyderabad-based Yashoda Hospitals Group has acquired space on Decentraland – a metaverse platform where users can buy and sell goods and engage in other realistic activities – in order to set up a virtual clinic.

In its current form, the space acquired by the group — a single plot of “land” measuring 16 x 16 “meters” — is a virtual experience center where users can learn more about the chain of hospitals, the services it offers and the physicians on its panel.

But by next year, the same space will be ready to become a virtual clinic where patient avatars can request expert consultations from doctors, according to the group – for a fee that will depend on the doctor and may eventually be on equal to that of physical consultations.

The Metaverse is a network of 3D virtual worlds or simulated digital environment that mimics the real world using Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), creating space for immersive social interactions.

Dr. Abhinav Gorukanti, director of Yashoda Hospitals Group, told ThePrint that the purchase of space on Decentraland marks the group’s plunge into the metaverse, adding that they are working to “evolve the experience” by placing a receptionist to get things going.

“There are, of course, many limitations to the metaverse; emergency services will have to be physical. However, lifestyle, mental health and nutrition, those are things that can be on this platform,” he added.

While the space is still evolving, Gorukanti expects the group’s patient services to be ready by next year.

In February this year, Apollo Hospitals Group also announced a collaboration with California-based software company 8chili Inc. to dive into the metaverse. With the move, the hospital chain aims to provide counseling to patients before and after operations through virtual reality.

Read also : Schools, universities in the metaverse? Why Virtual Reality is Catching Edtech’s Attention

Cost of setting up a virtual clinic

Gorukanti said setting up a virtual clinic would likely be more expensive than employing callers.

“There is a cost involved in buying the land (in the metaverse) and developing virtual infrastructure. For any hospital, the cost also depends on the doctor. If the same senior doctors appear in the metaverse, the eventual cost of consultations may be equal to that of physical consultations,” he said.

Gorukanti, who sees mental health as one of the major post-Covid issues that can be addressed through the metaverse, further said, “With increased screen times and people socializing less, mental health is something that I consider a huge space in the metaverse.”

“Ten years ago, none of us would have imagined that even a virtual call would have any value in healthcare. It seemed very impersonal. But there are plenty of people with mental health issues who don’t want to reveal their identities. They prefer to remain anonymous,” he said.

Highlighting how people in the metaverse spend a lot of time as virtual avatars and are therefore comfortable in that skin, he said that these people “will be comfortable going into a digital space like our hospital, where no one really knows them, and feel physically present when they meet some of our psychologists.

Gorukanti believes that international conferences, currently held in 2D mode, can also be held in the metaverse. “We think hosting some of these conferences in the metaverse is a much more immersive experience. You can probably have an entire 3D operating room so people can see your work virtually,” he said. .

According to a report by InsightAce Analytic, the global healthcare market metaverse was valued at USD 5.06 billion in 2021, with North America accounting for a major share. It is expected to climb to $71.97 billion by 2030.

(Editing by Amrtansh Arora)

Read also : Metaverse is an exciting futuristic technology. But we need to think about its potential misuse

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