There will be more Medcare facilities finding a place in the Metaverse, offering a platform for discovery for those outside the UAE searching for a healthcare facility in Dubai. And in the near future, telemedicine services too would be accessible via this VR/AR world. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Are telemedicine services in the UAE going to be reshaped by the Metaverse?

It sure does seem like it, with the Medcare Women & Children Hospital in Dubai laying claim to be the UAE’s first healthcare facility to have a parallel presence in the virtual world. The same Metaverse experiences would be recreated at other Aster DM Healthcare facilities in the country.

And providing telemedicine services could be one of the key areas. The ‘convergence of telehealth and Metaverse is the great thing happening next by incorporating the delivery of real-time consultations by experts,” said Alisha Moopen, Deputy Managing Director, Aster DM Healthcare. “We expect in the long-run, traditional ‘telemedicine’ services to be replaced by a need for Metaverse interactions, allowing patients to receive a more tangible and collaborative service.”

The existing consultation numbers done remotely through telemedicine would justify a Metaverse upgrade. Medcare does more than 20,000 virtual consultations a year, which works out to a 62 per cent hike from early 2020. Clearly, the arrival of COVID-19 made it an absolute must that healthcare consultations had to take the ‘remote’ route in all non-vital patient needs.

Ease with telemedicine

“During the pandemic, due to travel restrictions and lockdowns, people were unable to visit hospitals,” said Alisha. “They still wanted to speak with their doctors, consult physicians, or just generally get some help. Metaverse is a tool that can provide patients with that universal experience even when they are physically unable to be there.”

At the moment, the Medcare Women & Children Hospital will use the VR/AR universe to promote itself, especially among those scouting around for specialist care in Dubai. “We wanted to be pragmatic and look at use-cases that offer benefits to patients,” said Alisha. “The first is that people will be able to get a first-hand look at the facilities and infrastructure even when unable to visit the hospital when making the decision to avail of health services.

“Whether they are in Dubai or have any other constraints preventing them from visiting our hospital, the Metaverse will allow them to have the experience of visiting.

“Something they would otherwise have to do by flying into Dubai and visiting various hospitals before making their decision. The other benefit that we see is allowing the patient - or their family - to speak with the doctor in a more personal and immersive capacity than a Zoom call. The Metaverse gives you the experience of sitting in front of a doctor or a healthcare provider and having a conversation with him.”

Medcare partnered Biometaverse to set up the virtual facility and all of the associated services.

Convergence of telehealth and Metaverse is the great thing happening next considering the delivery of actual healthcare services

- Alisha Moopen of Aster DM Healthcare

Removing need to be present

“The value this solution provides is that of accessibility and affordability,” Alisha added. “Accessibility, because you will be able to visit the hospital or speak with a healthcare provider personally, without having to physically visit the hospital. Affordability, because it saves you the cost of travelling and staying in Dubai for that time.”

Two more hospitals get to Metaverse

Within months, Medcare will have the Metaverse ‘upload’ of the Medcare Hospital Al Safa and Medcare Orthopedics & Spine Hospital. “Our ultimate aim is to deliver actual healthcare services by incorporating the delivery of real-time consultations through our team of over 400 experts,” said Dr. Shanila Laiju, CEO of Medcare Hospitals and Medical Centers.