For many decades, healthcare was only available in person between a patient and a doctor, from diagnosis and medical treatment to performing surgical procedures on the patient.
Telehealth services are on the rise these days, alongside innovative technology that is revolutionizing care delivery.
Consider “Sarah,” a patient of the future. Sarah, a 24-year-old lady, needs an uncommon surgery in her country. On the other hand, Sarah may be able to communicate and work with doctors worldwide by utilizing immersive technology.
Doctors could derive better clinical outcomes and decide what is best for Sarah if they planned things based on her patient profile. Such technologies belong to the metaverse, and they, along with blockchain technology and non-fungible coins, are collectively for the world of Web3.
Gavin Wood, one of Ethereum’s inventors, invented Web3 in 2014. In this article, we look at the role of Web3 in the “New Era of Healthcare.”
What exactly is Web3?
Before we get into how Web3 can improve healthcare, let’s define it.
Web3 is an Internet protocol version based on individuals rather than centralized businesses. Web3 development infrastructure is built on open-source software and is maintained by a volunteer community. Web3 initiatives use blockchain-based tokens to allow an aligned digital community to share a platform’s ownership, access, and control.
Today, Web3 in hospitals is a concept that aims to change how we deliver and pay for healthcare radically. On one, healthcare is shifting toward patient-centered care. On the other hand, web3 decentralizes data by handing ownership to the user. Data is decentralized towards the patient in a web3 environment, causing a combustible shift in healthcare.
The metaverse is one of Web3’s components. The hospital’s metaverse is a parallel universe or visual reflection of reality. Virtual representations were previously encountered via augmented reality, virtual reality, or mixed reality via various technologies.
The primary distinction between Web3 and metaverse is that virtual worlds are durable through the usage of tokens. Blockchain is the fundamental technology facilitating the transition to Web3.
Blockchains are distributed and encrypted databases that allow data to be securely stored and shared in a way that no one else can tamper with except the data owner. This is accomplished through the use of immutable ledgers.
NFTs are the third pillar of the Web3 revolution. NFTs are non-fungible, irreplaceable tokens, also known as unique digital certificates, that are registered on a blockchain and track the ownership of an asset.
Let’s look at how Web3 can change the healthcare industry.
Web3 and Surgical Operations
Currently, surgeons use technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and minimally invasive surgery to improve patient outcomes. Leading hospitals and colleges use these technologies for surgeries because they provide a 3-D representation of a patient’s body and aid in the interpretation and execution of surgical plans and procedures. However, AR and VR alone are insufficient for making sound therapeutic decisions. VR devices, for example, are restricted to certain therapeutic settings, but mobile VRs provide pocket-sized immersion. This is when the metaverse enters the picture.
Consider the patient once more, Sarah. Doctors can develop a digital duplicate of Sarah to better understand how her treatment is carried out. A virtual model, or simulation, of any object, process, or system built using real-world data to learn more about its real-world counterpart, in this case, patient Sarah.
This digital twin can be used as a “test dummy” to forecast everything from Sarah’s operation to her reactions to various medications to the best surgical path. As a result, the collaborative care team is able to make better clinical decisions and conduct procedures with fewer risks.
These doctors can even work with surgeons from other locations who are invited into Sarah’s care room’s metaverse.
This is when things start to get interesting. Global experts could be welcomed into Sarah’s care area to provide novel therapies or treatment outcomes in order to cure her unique ailment. If those proposals are successful, the experts from across the world will be awarded in the form of a cryptographic token for their assistance in Sarah’s recovery.
Web3 and Patient Data
In today’s healthcare, data is frequently shared between various entities in ways that are both inefficient and opaque to the data’s owners. Because health records are typically maintained on centralized servers, our data is at risk of being stolen or abused.
With medical data expanding at an exponential rate, security is more vital than ever. Back in 1950, the doubling time was anticipated to be 50 years. According to a study published in Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association, it increased to 7 years in 1980, 3.5 years in 2010, and 73 days by 2020.
Patients can now own their data thanks to the integration of blockchain into healthcare. Patients of the future will be able to have their data dispersed thanks to secure encryption and cryptography. For example, if Sarah wants a specific doctor or hospital to do her treatment, she can share correct data, including her medical history, with the appropriate people by consensus. Furthermore, interaction recorded in blockchain combined with bitcoin enables clear payments that efficiently use Sarah’s data. Sarah’s healthcare costs could be reduced if she is rewarded for her data use.
Can Patients Monetize Their Healthcare?
Assume that, thanks to the metaverse, doctors were able to complete Sarah’s procedure with greater accuracy. Can Sarah, on the other hand, assist those who are going through the same thing she is? If Sarah’s healthcare data and journey were minted or stamped as a single or set of NFTs, she may choose to publish it on platforms that could be the web 3.0 equivalent of “patients like me.” Security issues should be alleviated because NFTs are built with the ability to be tracked and traced. Sarah can follow where it goes and holds people who used it without her permission accountable because she is the exclusive owner of her data, as confirmed by the NFT authentication.
Companies providing digital health services could use an NFT approach to attract patients to participate in studies by sharing and profiting from their data. Other firms interested in using the data for research or producing new products could reach out to patients through a digital marketplace. The primary difference between this strategy and the traditional one is that patients can share their data more informally.
Web3 has the potential to transform the healthcare industry. Future patients may live in a world where healthcare data is decentralized, personalized, and traceable, resulting in more transparency, accessibility, and treatment affordability.