March 23, 2023

The Medical Metaverse Digest: Metaverse + AI = Perfect Together

Metaverse person

Are you hearing that AI is the future, and the metaverse is “over”? So are we, but here’s the thing: the former can be true without the latter being true too. We already believe that AI, like ChatGPT, is game-changing for healthcare marketers and brands. (For more on that, check out our CEO Faruk Capan’s recent media coverage.)  

The metaverse is at the point in the technology Hype Cycle where a quieter period is to be expected – and it’s also intersecting with a period of economic uncertainty that is dampening investment. (For more on that, check out our recent article, Handling Economic Uncertainty: The Focus Pharma Marketers Need.) Economics are relevant because the hardware necessary for VR experiences remains early in development and therefore both expensive and risky for most consumers. We’ve seen this with many tech advances: while there might be millions of Tesla cars on the roads now, Tesla barely sold 2400 of its first model, the Roadster.
As the hype dies down, as the economy recovers from a series of post-pandemic shocks, and as tech companies make more rational investments (see Meta’s hardware roadmap), we expect metaverse innovation to reignite. In fact, it’s already happening: metaverse platform user bases are growing. This is the phase where the fad fades and the reality hardens.

Importantly, we’re continuing to advise clients against seeing metaverse and AI as an “either-or” decision – it’s going to be “both-and,” since AI is a driver of many metaverse experiences. Consider, an AI chatbot that lets users create and interact with virtual characters. Or the questionable social experiment from Koko, a non-profit that provided “counseling” sessions via ChatGPT, unbeknownst to participants. (The AI “therapist” received higher ratings than Koko’s human volunteers.) 
It’s not hard to envision a world where AI-driven health advisors – doctors, nurses, actual counselors – answer questions or offer referrals in a virtual space. This is a priority area for pharma brands, many of whom need to find more engaging ways to service patients and caregivers. Chat bots have shown mixed results; could metaverse support programs create a better brand experience and improve medication adherence? We’ll know soon enough. 

Metaverse round-up 

  • One way to know when innovation is becoming reality is when we see peer-reviewed publications emerge. This recent publication in Biomedicines discusses the metaverse as a space for neurorehabilitation.  
  • Another is when healthcare marketers use it as a discussion topic in their conference presentations! Karen Root, of Boehringer-Ingelheim, spoke about the metaverse at the recent Pharma CX Tech Summit. “The metaverse is not just another channel,” she noted; “It’s transcendent beyond all [channels].” Check out a video snippet: 
  • The Big Four strategy consultants continue to double down on the metaverse. This article from Accenture reiterates a lot of points we’ve made in recent Metaverse Digest posts
  • New technology from Wist Labs lets you “step inside your memories” by turning regular mobile phone videos into VR experiences where you can immerse yourself. This is extremely interesting to our Metaverse Monthly Digest authors and a technology we have our eyes on. 
  • We were pleased to be the only healthcare / pharma agency highlighted in this recent article on metaverse marketing in Hackernoon! You’ll notice the Metaverse Monthly Digest’s own Jeff MacFarland quoted. 

Contributors: Paris Daniell, Ben Gauthier, Jeff Greene, Jeff MacFarland, Nicole Maksimovic, Sarah Morgan