The pandemic changed how we communicate and work on many levels, opening the door to new avenues for information flow and connection. Among the many changes that we've seen is a shift in our healthcare system. With the advent of new technology that can streamline healthcare, we're seeing new opportunities to not only treat patients but to quantify data to provide a bigger picture view of health in our country and worldwide.
At the same time, more and more people are adopting health wearables like Fitbit, Oura Ring, Whoop, and so on to track their fitness and health goals.
Together, these technologies are creating a new level of care that's proving never-before-seen health data among various demographics.
How are all of these technologies going to fit into our future, and what exactly does this future of healthcare look like? Read on to learn more.
The Metaverse and the Meta Health Ecosystem
New technologies like virtual reality, health wearables, and platforms for sharing and connecting create a new world of information. As these technologies converge, a concept called the "metaverse" has emerged.
The metaverse, in essence, is a merging of the virtual world with our physical world. Through various platforms, the metaverse creates an alternative reality that can inform our physical reality and may significantly change the way we live.
One of the major areas of change that we're seeing is in the healthcare industry, or what you might call the "metahealth ecosystem." In addition to virtual consultations, healthcare providers now have access to all kinds of data from health wearables that would have never before been available.
How will the metaverse impact our healthcare system? Here are just a handful of technologies that we can expect to see in the near future:
Treatment and Diagnosis Via Data Connections
During the pandemic, the need for virtual consultations became abundantly clear as ER rooms and doctor visits became largely off-limits for those infected with the COVID-19 virus. Online urgent care practices and virtual doctor appointments have already begun to take over in-person visits, even as the pandemic begins to quiet down.
For many people, saving time and taking care of their health needs virtually has simplified their lives and created ease of care.
Avatars for Realistic Consultations
Many providers have also begun to create avatars that can answer basic health-related questions, saving both healthcare practitioners and patients time. Instead of making an appointment and waiting in a doctor's office, you can have your questions answered almost immediately by a healthcare avatar that has been programmed to share basic information.
In time, these avatars will likely become much more sophisticated, providing even more detailed and in-depth health guidance to those in need.
Personalized Health Care
Many doctors see handfuls of patients each day, making it challenging to spend any significant amount of time with each person. As data collection grows and becomes more streamlined, software that allows for more personalized healthcare will assist your providers in finding the right solutions for you.
Usage of Digital Twins
Down the line, we may even see what is referred to as "digital twins," which is a virtual twin of a physical object. In the case of health care, the virtual twin will be a model of you, with all of your health history and current diagnosis. The twin will be updated from real-time data, likely pulling from technologies like wearable devices.
Health Wearables Bridging the Gap of Traditional and Digital Worlds
"If you can't get your hands on an actual treadmill, which is most likely going to happen when you're in public, then using these devices will mean better performance," says Dr. Daniel Fassnacht, senior partner at global consulting firm Health 8i Ltd.
Fitness fans and health enthusiasts alike are jumping on the health wearable train to fine-tune their fitness goals and enable a more in-depth look at their own health markers. Traditionally, health goal tracking was a pastime that was limited to those with a gym membership and a personal trainer. Today, anyone can pick up a piece of wearable technology and gather information about their heart rate variability, sleep cycle, recovery levels, and much more.
This data has become an incredible source of information beyond anything we've ever had access to before. Gone are the days of self-reporting; today, we can pull data from millions of people to assess health on both a personal and a larger scale.
In fact, reports show that in 2022, 67 million people in the United States are currently wearing some type of health tracking device. This data opens up endless possibilities for new technologies and strategies that can enhance well-being and overall health.
Why Telehealth and Virtual Patient Communities Benefit from Health Wearables
While we already see the benefits of the metaverse and health wearables, these technologies offer a lot of promise for the future of healthcare. Once health wearables are fully integrated, the possibilities are truly endless.
Individualized tracking can make a world of difference in the decision process for treatment and prevention. It can also provide immediate feedback to let you know which health strategies are working and which ones need to be tweaked.
Some areas of possible benefit include:
Solution to Limited In-Person Patient Meetings
As we move to a more digital-centered world, getting in to see the doctor will become much more streamlined and efficient. Health wearables will provide your practitioner with the data they need to see how your body is responding to specific medications and lifestyle changes without the need for you to report or keep track.
This data will not only be accurate, but it will also be timely and up-to-date. In this way, your practitioner can prioritize what steps you need to take to achieve your health goals, taking out much of the guesswork.
Bridges the Distance Between Providers and Patients
In the same light, as your provider will have access to in-depth health data, it can bridge the gap between you and your healthcare practitioner. With the concept of virtual twins, your practitioner will only be a click away from checking up on you.
Helps Elevate Virtual Care (2D to 3D Experience)
Health wearables will also help to elevate what virtual care could look like. If these wearables continue to grow in their functionality, you may be able to tailor-pick which health markers are under surveillance and, therefore, what type of data your healthcare practitioner has access to.
For example, someone with diabetes will likely want to have their glucose and insulin levels continuously monitored and tracked. Conversely, someone with a heart condition may be more interested in the moment-to-moment status of their blood pressure.
Health wearables are likely going to be a significant part of the future of healthcare. Combined with the advances of the metaverse, virtual healthcare should make it easier for both patients and providers to receive and offer care that is not only personalized but more effective and efficient.
There are currently several wearables on the market, many offering a range of data collection points. Depending on what your current health goals are, you can find trackers for sleep, recovery, stress, body temperature, and much more.
Finding the right wearable for you may take some research, but with the advances in technology that are happening in this space, there are several fantastic options already on the market.