Medical Frontiers in the Metaverse – Are There Solutions in a Virtual World? 

Following the recent rebranding of Facebook to ‘Meta’, the word ‘metaverse’ has landed on many people’s radar for the first time. Even so, the concept of a ‘metaverse’ has existed for several decades, first originating in the 1992 sci-fi fiction novel “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson, which envisioned a digital world where people could escape their dystopian reality. 

But while Mark Zuckerberg introduced his vision of the metaverse with avatars and the prospect to conduct office meetings in fully-virtual reality, the potential for different landscapes within the metaverse is ultimately for innovators to decide. Much in the same way that we could not have predicted how different iterations of the internet would evolve, there is huge potential for the metaverse users to ultimately dictate its path. And perhaps no industry has greater potential to innovate within these digital walls than healthcare.

A Medical Metaverse

One company is focusing less on the social and entertainment appeal of a virtual world, and more on the potential for real-life impact. MdDAO is developing a metaverse that seeks to create a mirrored version of US healthcare, and aims to recruit the industry’s best medical professionals to create a better standard of patient care. Currently in the process of evaluating investor interest, this metaverse would incorporate NFT purchases for ‘accessories’ within the healthcare space, and will introduce a reward token in the near future.

“The MdDAO community is formed with various consumers, medical professionals, and partners who wish to get involved,” says Helene Blanchette, former Xerox Global Vice-President of Marketing and MdDAO co-founder. “We are offering memberships for different communities, consumers, medical professionals, and organizations, and this includes the underprivileged areas, at no cost. It is rethinking from the ground up.”

Led by former rapper and N.W.A. co-founder Arabian Prince, MdDAO’s goal is to depart from the animated public image of the metaverse, and create something with more real-world impact. Instead of operating in a way that looks similar to other metaverses, the vision of MdDAO is to ultimately give everyone, including the underrepresented communities a voice in this virtual space by creating the healthcare system they want and need.

Digital Healthcare Accessibility

Where the democratizing of services via apps has drastically changed the way we seek out services, Blanchette insists this can become the case in healthcare, too. “Now, imagine applying this same philosophy to health and wellness, harnessing the collective mind of people to find solutions that can be applied to deliver healthcare in the metaverse,” she says. 

After all, it’s no secret that the US healthcare system is in desperate need of fixing, with solutions being concentrated on those who profit from it, inherently informing and influencing decisions that should be made in the best interest of the patient. Contrarily, MdDAO intends to be the “meeting point” of the technology, services, and applications that will create access to the type of healthcare required for those most in need. 

The structure of MdDAO’s envisioned metaverse would reward people for good health habits via MedV tokens, which could then be exchanged for services. The intention is not to offer underprivileged groups the opportunity to access healthcare without financial limitations, but rather through better habits. Blanchette says this must coincide with education which can be facilitated through AI, placing more control in the hands of consumers. “The metaverse is an undeniable new dimension. We offer a place to connect without boundaries — a safe place where anyone can join to have access to care, empathy, compassion, and innovation — rewarding people for their good health choices and lifestyle, and promoting health ownership and health equality.”

A Healthcare Landscape Decided By Users

Throughout the pandemic, we have all seen just how effective telehealth has been in not only allowing doctors to see more patients, but in making healthcare more accessible. 

“Speaking face-to-face in the Metaverse, where meeting a specialist, perhaps as an avatar persona, can help many people open up more, without the mask of shame stopping them,” Blanchette says. “By bringing a virtual third dimension to the physical world, people will have access to technology and services from anywhere.” 

Which services it will provide and how it is delivered, Blanchette says, is for the MdDAO community to voice and vote on over the next few months. Then, it will be up to their team to translate it into the metaverse, “in the most human-like experience possible.”

Opinions expressed by San Francisco Post contributors are their own.

Bryan Smith

Bryan Smith has lived all his life in San Francisco and is currently a Senior Reporter. He has outstanding journalistic background. For the past 10 years, he has been breaking news stories and creating engaging content. He has been a leader in setting San Francisco's news agenda and reporting on the state for national audiences.

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