Healthcare Business In The Metaverse World- Many people think of the metaverse as the next big thing in digital business. Companies in all fields are spending millions of dollars on getting a digital presence to become market leaders. Even though it can change things, the metaverse also brings its own legal challenges. This Alert talks about a few important legal issues that people who work in the healthcare field should think about before entering the market.
A Deep Dive Look Into The Metaverse!
Metaverse – the next generation of the internet promises immersive, three-dimensional experiences with thriving digital markets and a strong social component. In these marketplaces, businesses and customers usually trade using cryptocurrencies, which are digital forms of money that are distributed in a decentralized system using secure cryptographic methods, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which are unique digital properties that are “minted” from real-world objects or creations like art and music in exchange for cryptocurrencies or other NFTs.
Blockchains, which are digital ledgers that record transactions between two parties in a way that can be checked and is permanent, make this possible. Even though some parts of the metaverse are still a long way off, businesses and consumers are starting to flock to a reliable metaverse development company and spend a lot of money to buy digital assets.
The Business Scenario For The Healthcare Industry
By building on the technological advances that are already happening in the healthcare sector, healthcare providers are in a good position to get a foothold in the metaverse. For example, artificial intelligence (AI) is making it easier to quickly and accurately review and translate mammograms, which means fewer unnecessary biopsies are done to find breast cancer.
Virtual reality (VR) gives surgeons three-dimensional images they can use to plan and do surgeries. It also offers physical therapists access to game-based therapies that can help stroke patients recover faster and engage them in the process. Patients, on the other hand, are getting more and more used to wearable devices, apps, and other technologies that give real-time data and suggestions to help them make better health decisions.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare industry made a lot of progress in growing its digital footprint. Providers and patients use telehealth and other virtual forms of care a lot more. McKinsey & Company found in a report from 2021 that the use of telehealth has reached stable levels that are 38 times higher than they were before the pandemic. Use rates now range from 13% to 17% across all medical specialties.
In the meantime, the entry of tech companies, venture capital firms, and other non-traditional industry players into the healthcare sector has helped virtual care investments grow a lot. According to the McKinsey report, the total amount of venture capital invested in digital health in the first half of 2021 was $14.7 billion. This was more than the total amount of venture capital invested in digital health in 2020 and almost double the amount invested in 2019.
Potential Benefits of Metaverse For The Health Industry
The metaverse could speed up these trends very quickly and make them much more immersive and interactive than traditional telehealth. With the power of AI, VR, and other innovations like augmented reality, the Internet of Things (IoT), quantum computing, and robotics, which are getting smarter all the time, the metaverse might be able to:
- A doctor can talk to a patient or another doctor at a different location by projecting a three-dimensional hologram of himself or herself.
- Using genetic and other information about a patient, a digital “twin” of the patient will be made and mapped. This will help doctors predict what short-term and long-term problems the patient might have after surgery or other treatments.
- Students and trainees learn in an environment where they are almost like they are in an operating room, so they can watch surgeries.
- Using blockchains to break down barriers between electronic health record systems and make it easy for providers and patients to share health information quickly and safely.
To reach these goals, the metaverse could possibly improve the quality of care and, in turn, the health outcomes of individual patients. It could also make things run more smoothly, which could cut costs and make care more available.
Even though there are a lot of unknowns, some people in the healthcare industry are getting ready for their future in the metaverse. In January of this year, CVS was the first pharmacy to file for a trademark to sell goods and services in the metaverse. In the filing, the company said it wanted to offer prescription drugs that could be downloaded and used in online virtual worlds, as well as different types of healthcare services, like non-emergency medical treatment and nutrition counseling, in virtual reality and augmented reality settings.
Before entering a metaverse platform, healthcare professionals and providers should think about:
Because they are digital, digital assets like cryptocurrency and NFTs are more likely to be lost or stolen. Before getting cryptocurrency or NFTs, providers should set up a secure blockchain wallet and use the right access and security controls.
Providers should think about making a subsidiary or affiliate to hold digital assets, protect other parts of their business from liability related to the metaverse, and handle any tax issues that might come up.
Choose a Platform
Each metaverse platform has both good and bad things about it. Some, like Roblox and Fortnite, let businesses reach a larger number of users, but in general, businesses have less control over the content on those platforms. Others, like Decentraland and the Sandbox, give businesses more control, but they have fewer users and are harder to get into. So far, there hasn’t been a dominant platform that is made just for communication between healthcare providers. As current platforms compete for new users from different industries and jobs, providers should think about how much control and visibility they want to have on a platform before committing to it.
CVS’s recent trademark application shows that providers should think about applying for trademarks on core metaverse goods or services and securing any available blockchain domains to make metaverse payments easier. Trademark protection should also cover each provider’s unique presence in the metaverse. Given that blockchain domains are becoming more popular and that there aren’t many ways to settle disputes, providers should think about getting intellectual property rights now.
IP Rights Protection and Enforcement
The metaverse is decentralized, which makes it hard for businesses and people who own intellectual property, which are used to having predictable ways to protect their legal rights. Before moving forward with blockchain-based transactions, like buying or minting NFTs, providers need to know that information added to a blockchain is there forever and can’t be taken away. Before stamping, restrictions on how an NFT can be used and sold must be carefully thought out and put in place. Once the content is on the blockchain, there isn’t much you can do about it.
Reserving Metaverse Rights
Businesses that license their intellectual property, especially if they do so based on geography or territory, should look at their existing license agreements to see if their licensees have any rights to use their intellectual property in the metaverse. In the future, brand owners should clarify that they want to keep their requests for metaverse uses and be careful before letting anyone else use their intellectual property on their behalf.
In addition to these things, healthcare providers in the metaverse will have to deal with their unique legal issues as they try to figure out complex healthcare rules.
Questions that can arise:
- How will traditional state-based licensing requirements apply to providers when they talk to patients and other providers in other states and countries in the metaverse?
- Is it possible to share health data with patients and other providers in the metaverse using blockchain technology in a way that meets federal and state requirements for data privacy and security?
- Will government and private payor programs cover goods and services in the metaverse? How will fraud and abuse laws and other rules affect providers in the metaverse who are enrolled in these programs?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, different versions of these questions came up as providers quickly switched to telehealth to keep care going and stop the spread of the virus. This change was largely made possible by regulatory waivers and less strict enforcement of federal and state laws that could have stopped the US virtual care infrastructure from growing so quickly.
Even though COVID-19 seems to be changing from a pandemic to an endemic phase, many of these regulatory flexibilities are still in place. This makes people worry that the gains in digital health will be lost if and when these flexibilities end. How policymakers, regulators, and industry players deal with these concerns, in the long run, is important not only for the current telehealth and digital health trends that grew during the pandemic and for the regulatory paradigm that could develop in the metaverse.
- What is Metaverse and Why is Everyone Talking About it?
- Metaverse Actually the Digital Extension of A Smart City
- How to Access the Metaverse in 2022
- Great Metaverse: Why has Facebook Changed its Name
The metaverse gives healthcare providers a great chance to connect with patients, other providers, and businesses in a way that was thought of as science fiction. But as with any new technological or non-technological frontier, there are legal and regulatory problems to think about and solve. Some are well-known, and others are new.