Just when you thought telemedicine might have reached the tipping point, virtual reality is already disrupting it. Yes, when it comes to digital health, things are changing rapidly and the threat of technological substitutes is ever present.
Virtual reality medicine will impact many and require continual pivots in education, research , development and commercialization, and deployment ,adoption and penetration.
1. We will need to teach patients and doctors when and how to use it.
2. We need to be careful about accepting shiny new objects instead of simple ones that do the job cheaper.
3. We will need to engage creatives in the arts and media to help science and technology geeks to create products and services
4. We will need to rethink how we teach highly visual subjects, like anatomy and surgery, without having to use cadavers and be able to teach it online.
5. If you thought we have security problems now, just wait until some guy in Eastern Europe shows up on your screen.
6. We will need to verify when VR is better, worse or the same as the gold standard of face to face medicine.
7. The digital gap will get wider and fewer people will have access
8. The distinctions between games, education courses and treatment recommendations will narrow
9. Those with disabilities might benefit and VR might be a reasonable accomodation to comply with the ADA.
10. New ecosystems and business models will evolve, including avatars replacing doctors.
VR is already having an impact on training and it will expand rapidly to include simulation, education and telemedical care.
Storytelling is not a big part of the therapeutic repetoire. However, with VR, all that might change in an instant.
Arlen Meyers,MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at www.sopenet.org