Trend description The metaverse has the potential to disrupt different sections of the 4.4 trillion wellness economy. The metaverse has the potential to become the "better verse" and improve the wellness sector and people's general well-being. The meta-verse unlocks many opportunities for wellness brands. Building the wellness metaverse will be through synergies of new technology and consumer behavior.
According to the American think tank the Brookings Institution, only 43% of health centers said they could provide telehealth before COVID-19. In 2020, that number increased to 95%. Doctors and nurses have found that they could more efficiently diagnose many minor conditions through a video call or phone call. The lack of accessibility to more traditional mental health services has made consumers more open to alternatives they might find easier to integrate into their routines and budgets. Consumers will turn to the metaverse, and the virtual world will fill the gap that health centers aren't.
The physical and digital worlds overlap, and consumers spend many of their waking hours immersed in digital worlds. Gen Z consumers spend twice as much time socially interacting in the metaverse than they do in real life, according to new research conducted by Vice Media Group and Publicis Groupe's Razorfish agency. According to a study conducted by EY, Gen Z are drawn to the metaverse for various reasons. These reasons include the virtual experience they get, the possibility to make social connections, the status & glory, or the chance to invest in future technologies. Furthermore, the metaverse gives them the desired sense of stability and escape. Younger consumers seek to escape the unstable and unpredictable reality of the real world by immersing themselves in the digital world.
In recent years, there has been an overlap between physical and digital health. Doctors and psychiatrists are starting to prescribe video games and VR to treat conditions such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, and PTHD. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) have in 2021 approved VR therapy as a prescribed treatment for chronic back pain. The Zombies Vs. Anxiety 2018 study found that in a group of more than 50 participants struggling with anxiety, two to three hours a week of game time showed a more significant reduction in anxiety than taking a second prescription medication.
Social media and new technology have shaped Gen Z's life, and they have not lived in a world without it. These generations are most comfortable in the digital world, which will cause them to seek treatment from the digital world. A 2022 Mckinsey study found that Gen Z respondents were less likely to seek traditional therapy than other generations. Gen Z consumers will search for untraditional ways of coping with their mental stress and anxiety through the metaverse. In a study by Wunderman Thompson, 81% of consumers say they switch on digitally to unwind; 55% say they are physically healthier thanks to technology, and 56% say they are mentally healthier thanks to technology.
The same study found that 81% of people think that the healthcare sector will be impacted by the metaverse, with respondents reporting that digital tools that help depend on bodily and mental health in the physical world could be the future. From virtual clinics and hospitals to digital twins, and the digitalizing of health treatments, the metaverse offers many new ways to provide healthcare.
Bringing meditation to the metaverse
New technology and virtual worlds can change the wellness sector and how fitness, mental wellness, and health are delivered to the consumer. Bringing meditation and mindfulness to the meta-verse unlocks many opportunities for wellness brands.
Alo-Yoga, the Los Angeles-based activewear brand, has entered the metaverse. All yoga fans can enter the virtual well-being space Alo Sanctuary, hosted by Rob-lox. Alo Sanctuary is a virtual destination for yoga and meditation and seeks to bring the importance of well-being and mindfulness into the metaverse. The Alo Sanctuary is a virtual mindfulness experience found in an overstimulated virtual world. The goal of that experience was to bring mindfulness to the metaverse and show that despite that studies have found digital platforms being damaging to mental health, digital platforms and mental health doesn’t have to be exclusive and can work together. Alo Yoga has announced a month-long wellness retreat on the platform Roblox with guided meditation and yoga classes that avatars can attend, aiming to help people tune out by tuning into the digital world.
Telehealth consultations, done through VR, open opportunities to do consultations that are not limited to a particular geographic area. If consumers want a consultation for a spa treatment in India or the best beauty clinic in Los Angeles, VR makes it possible for the consumer to be in the same room as the expert by putting on a headset. This could open opportunities to connect with professionals all over the world.
Virtual reality opens the opportunity to give customers the care and expertise they need, whenever they need it, and wherever they are. This technology break geographic boundaries, and it will be possible for customers to always have the best expert available to them.
The health and wellness company Ketamine One has partnered with OVR Technology to offer OVR Technology's 'INHALE Wellness Platform' to its patients. The immersive VR experience designed to promote relaxation and general wellbeing. INHALE is designed to lead users through virtual reality scenes, combining virtual reality and olfactory training to induce feelings of calm and well-being. INHALE's scent cartridge amplifies the benefit of virtual reality with the addition of transportive scents such as tropical beaches and wildflower fields.
Furthermore, VR has the potential to allow customers to switch between different types of care, resulting in the wellness sector being more centered. Through a VR headset, the customer could enter a fitness section, visit a doctor's appointment, and see a therapist within the metaverse.
VR can be a beneficial tool when used for optimizing mental health. VR could make it possible for the patient to interact with a situation that causes them anxiety and create that environment in the virtual world while being safe in the real world. Texas-based health startup Rey has launched a virtual mental health wellness platform that combines teletherapy with various immersive digital tools to offer patients an interactive therapy session. The platform makes it possible for clinicians to expose their clients to virtual versions of their real-life triggers, to treat the way the brain copes with them.
Many patients experience anxiety when going to therapy. VR has the potential to reduce the stress associated with treatment. The metaverse could revolutionize mental health by making customers more comfortable, building immersive environments, and better personal preferences. Virtual Reality Startup AnomieXR aims to use the power of VR to offer users a highly immersive and accessible therapy session. The company is developing a remote therapy tool that can be accessed through a VR headset, allowing consumers to enter a therapy session from the comfort of their own homes.
Furthermore, the company Ei. Ventures, specializing in psychedelic therapy, has recently announced that it has purchased a plot of virtual land in the metaverse platform Sandbox. On Sandbox the company plans to build virtual clinics where Ei. Ventures therapists can host online psychedelic therapy sessions.
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Picture: VR Scout
A digital twin is a virtual stimulation generated to reflect a physical object accurately. The digital twin market is expected to grow from USD 6.9 billion in 2022 to USD 73.5 billion by 2027; it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 60.6% from 2022 to 2027, according to markets and markets. When VR & Digital twins come together, it can open opportunities for the wellness sector. Digital twins can be created so they look genetically identical to real humans. Digital twins could open the possibility for consumers to learn more about their bodies. Digital twins can become the "test dummies" for individuals and can be used to predict any outcome. Digital twins can make it possible to understand the effect of what consumers do by using their twins. A wellness brand selling supplements could predicts the result of the supplements on the digital twin if it took the supplement daily for ten years.
In wellness, it opens opportunities to predict the body and skin respond to specific treatments. Furthermore, it could be possible for clinics to predict everything from how the digital twin will recover from surgery to the reaction to medications. Ultimately it would be possible to do surgery on the digital twin, before doing it in real life, on the person,
Digital twins can predict the future of an outcome, and, as a result, get an increased understanding of individuals' genetics. This could have the potential to change research.
Unlearn.AI combines digital twin models with artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to accelerate the evaluation of clinical interventions. The company Virtonomy offers data-driven clinical trials on virtual patients. Similarly, The University of Miami has announced a research project using digital twin to address sleep-loss problems. Furthermore, the company Nero twin is working on building virtual copies of consumer's brains.
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As the pandemic has changed consumer behaviors, consumers are turning to online spaces and non-traditional treatments for medical care. The metaverse of medicine can provide consumers with instant and easy access to health care appointments, such as consultations, prescription renewals, and health advice. Consumers expect to have instant and easy access to health assistance, causing health clinics and pharmacies to establish themselves within the digital world.
CVS seeks to bring the health services they provide into the Mmetaverse, being the first drugstore chain to enter the virtual space. The drugstore company is filing patents for its virtual stores that will sell downloadable virtual goods within the metaverse, allowing consumers to purchase prescription drugs, wellness, beauty, and personal care products in the metaverse. The downloadable goods will be created using blockchain technology and sold as NFTS. Furthermore, the metaverse store will allow patients to access the same services as in their physical clinics. It will offer telehealth consultation for non-emergency medical treatments, wellness programs, nutrition advice, and health and lifestyle coaching.
Furthermore, Metaverse Advisory Group has partnered with Noman Qureshi, owner of the Pharmacy Group, to assist the pharmacy group in developing a metaverse pharmacy. The metaverse pharmacy wants to help improve medication adherence by offering automatic refill reminders for subscriptions, medications shipped directly to the patient's home, the possibility of scheduling telehealth consultations, and allowing patients to track their medications. MAG will provide the Pharmacy Group with an e-commerce pharmaceutical platform for their operations in the Metaverse.
"Metaverse provides a new way to engage customers by creating an online community around healthcare and is actively engaging with the MZ generation. I truly believe that the Future of Healthcare is digital," said Khurram Shroff, Chairman, President, and CEO of iMining Technologies to Yahoo Finance.
Virtual Clinics and Hospitals
It’s not only pharmacies that are entering the metaverse. Clinics and hospitals are also looking into the opportunities the metaverse can provide them. Hospitals are now creating virtual hospitals, due to the pandemic, where patients have become used to digital care. There is a demand for physicians to make computer-savvy and virtual diagnoses. However, they also need to know the limits of virtual care. Being a virtual physician requires a broader tech understanding.
Revitaland is a metaverse platform that aims to house a series of virtual health and wellness clinics. The metaverse platform will offer consumers a fully digital and virtual clinic experience as an alternative to traditional real-life mental health treatments.
Matthew Connelly, CEO of META, stated in a press release: “A virtual clinic offers patients an alternative to traditional treatment options and puts Revitalist at the forefront of the virtual interactive world as it relates to mental health. Our team will work closely with Revitalist to ensure patients have a quality experience when visiting Revitaland. Technology in the metaverse is changing rapidly, with large technology companies such as Facebook and Microsoft spending a significant amount of time and resources to deploy projects in the metaverse.”
The healthcare company Thumbay Group has announced that it will launch UAE’s first metaverse hospital, which will use a combination of VR and AR to provide users with remote consultations and certified doctors.
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Blockchain is another key technology that has the potential to change the wellness and health industry. It offers the opportunity to decentralize customer data and allow individuals to control what information gets shared and with whom. It could create a whole system that could easily talk to other systems. This means that data from the chiropractor, the cosmetic clinic, the doctor and psychiatry could speak together.
We are entering a new area where customers' approaches to wellness are holistic. Gen Z will radically change the beauty and wellness sector with their holistic mindset and attitude toward wellness.
If health records talked together, it could open the opportunity for an integrated healthcare system. If a customer is approaching a cosmetic clinic with skin issues, it would be possible, with the customer's consent, to have the professional look if other factors beyond the customer's skin care routine were causing skin issues. It would be possible for the professional to look at the customer's mental health record or nutrition habits from other systems to understand the cause of the issue. The metaverse health and wellness system could have professionals deliver more joint-up treatment programs and easily shift information sharing between clinicians.
Blockchain is essential to the metaverse concept due to decentralizing communities' democracy through smart contracts. Blockchains offer the opportunity to decentralize customer data and allow customers to control the information that gets shared and with whom. Health records are currently stored in centralized servers, meaning consumers' data is at risk of being stolen. Blockchain allows people to track their records on a personal file on a blockchain, which can be shared with the individual's permission. Blockchain has the advantage that it allows the individual be in control of their own data. Offering joined-up treatments within blockchain data in a virtual world could make treatments more effective.
The British nonprofit Dehealth has launched an AI and Medical Data Based decentralized app for secure and anonymous storage, management, and monetization of anonymized healthcare data. The platform connects individuals, healthcare providers, and data consumers in a secure partnership enabling beneficial data exchange of high-quality, multi-structured datasets.
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