June 30, 2022

The Medical Metaverse Digest for June 2022

Metaverse person

Virtual reality … NFTs … blockchain … the metaverse… everywhere we turn lately, these buzzwords await. And the NEXTMAKERS of EVERSANA INTOUCH are intrigued. We envision a future (it’s actually now) when the Medical Metaverse fully emerges.

What will the Medical Metaverse change? How physicians are trained. How healthcare data is used. How diseases are treated. And a whole lot of other things no one has imagined. 

To help you prepare, we’re scouring the world for what’s going on with the metaverse in healthcare. Stay tuned for regular updates, ideas, and opportunities to rethink what’s next for your business.

Today’s three main topics:

  • The Possibilities for the Medical Metaverse Are Enticing
  • Early Healthcare Innovators in VR and Blockchain
  • Mental Health: The First Killer App of the Medical Metaverse?

The Possibilities for the Medical Metaverse are Enticing

Pharma companies in the metaverse? Maybe not yet, but time to start thinking future use, experts say (endpoints.com) – This article explores the potential for creating patient communities in the metaverse, among other concepts – and quotes our own Andrew Grojean, Associate Director of Innovation. Metaverse communities could be particularly interesting for patients with rare diseases, and potentially a way for HCPs to learn.

Metaverse spending to total $5 trillion in 2030, McKinsey predicts (wsj.com and mckinsey.com) – McKinsey’s new report has some eye-catching numbers, including that $5 trillion amount. Moreover, $144-206 billion of that amount will be advertising, they forecast. And 79% of their 3,000 survey respondents said that they had already – not someday! – made a purchase inside a metaverse. 47% of those had made in-game purchases, and 37% had purchased virtual cosmetic items. 33% had purchased real-world items offered through virtual platforms.

CVS aims to be first pharmacy in the metaverse (Pymnts.com) – CVS has filed a patent to sell goods and provide healthcare services in the virtual world. Their focus is on nutrition, wellness, and counseling, which may signal the desire to become a virtual healthcare provider. If major pharmacies like CVS are planning for the metaverse, pharma manufacturers should be fast followers!

Early Healthcare Innovators in VR and Blockchain

How does EaseVRx’s virtual reality system treat back pain? (goodrx.com) – EaseVRx comes with a headset, controller, and breathing amplifier, and it’s designed to combat lower back pain using CBT and other breathing strategies. While it’s still new, early data shows promising reductions in the need for OTC pain medication. Other companies like Healium are doing the same. Would it feel strange to get a prescription for VR? Perhaps. But brands are increasingly going to have to address this unfamiliarity, and normalize therapeutics that aren’t just made out of cellulose and proteins.

Blockchain in healthcare: top 10 use cases (medium.com) – How can distributed shared ledgers be leveraged by, and revolutionize, healthcare? From monitoring diseases and viruses; to improving clinical research and medical records; to guarding data, privacy and records, and more: this article lays out a variety of ways that blockchain can and should be used to improve healthcare.

Meta’s new skeleton simulator “MyoSuite” could help develop prosthetics (gizmodo.com) – New AI software can model complex skeletal movement using machine learning that Meta claims runs 4,000 times faster than currently available software. Mark Zuckerberg is quoted as saying, “This research could accelerate development of prosthetics, physical rehab, and surgery techniques. It could also help us develop more realistic avatars for the metaverse.”

Inside PixelMax metaverse reassuring young Alder Hey patients (businesscloud.co.uk) – Alder Hey Children’s Hospital is collaborating with PixelMax to create a perfect VR replica of their radiology department to help young patients explore the area and let them get acquainted them to the sites, sounds, and machines they’ll experience while still at home. They hope this initiative will reduce cancellations and schedule changes, as young patients will feel more confident in what they can expect during their appointment.

The Virtual Reality Institute of Health and Exercise – Not sure how well your health VR app really works? This organization has used an established methodology to rate different apps – so far, just in terms of how many calories users burn. It’s easy to imagine that expanding, though, as more apps come to market and users become more concerned about other measures of performance.

Mental Health: The First “Killer App” of the Medical Metaverse?

Vital Start Health launches virtual-reality-enabled telemedicine platform for maternal mental health (hitconsultant.net) – Another virtual mental health platform has been launched: Courage, from a U Penn startup called Vital Start Health. It focuses on mood disorders for pregnant and postpartum people, which can be a major complication of pregnancy. Patients are provided a VR headset to use with their mobile phone. The company hopes to partner with health systems, insurers – and pharma!

Otsuka signs on Jolly Good for $43M mental health VR deal(fiercebiotech.com) – Otsuka is partnering with VR company Jolly Good to develop a joint pharma-behavioral therapy program for patients with schizophrenia (Otsuka manufacturers Abilify, et al). Otsuka is “aiming to build the largest mental health VR business in Japan.” We’re seeing more and more inclusion of VR in mental health, and this is a prominent example. The companies say that the immersive nature of VR will make their program more effective than standard methods.

The Roblox pseudo-metaverse now includes a partnership with ADHD therapy (gizmodo.com) – Roblox is partnering with Akili Interactive, creators of EndeavorRx (a game that is an FDA-approved ADHD treatment for children 8-12), to “create new ways for patients to engage in health through the Roblox platform.” The connection will be tested this summer and the companies plan a big marketing push this autumn.

Why digital mental health investment may shift toward severe illness (mobihealthnews.com) – During a panel discussion at “Going Digital: Behavioral Health Tech 2022,” investors discussed what’s next. They suggest that there’s a limit to general mental health and counseling apps, and there may be a new growth in mental health digital tools for PTSD, autism, and other challenging conditions. The effect of this expansion on pharma will remain to be seen!

Authors: Paris Daniell, Jeff Greene, Andrew Grojean, Alex Kareotes, Jeff MacFarland, Nicole Maksimovic, Sarah Morgan, Rachel Stelmach, Carly Stilwell

Photo by julien Tromeur on Unsplash