It is exciting to experience the explosive growth in the Second Life for HealthCare domain. Most of the sites are geared towards training medical professionals, followed by research initiatives. The most impressive ones that I had experienced are Ann Myers Medical Center that assists students to become more proficient in initial exam history and physicals and the UC Davis’ Virtual Hallucinations that provides virtual hallucinations experiences.
The key observation is that unlike the fast paced world where the physicians and students are hard pressed for time, second life provides physicians and patients more interaction time, thus providing more time for patients to share and more time for physicians to listen and more time for both parties to know better. The escalated interaction between physician and patient provides opportunity psychologists to promote alternate treatment plans such as psychoimmunobiology that stimulates body’s ability to heal itself through the stimulation of the immune system and fight disease. Second life provides a digital brick and mortar environment where institutions such as UC Davis with its reputation provides the required creditability for patients to transport to and leverage the physician advice and digital resources offered at the UC Davis Second Life facility. With 60% of the Second Life avatars from outside of US, the Second Life institutions tend to cater to patients from across the globe. This enables patients to seek holistic treatment approaches from around the globe. The physicians training programs tend to expose them to treatment approaches and diseases that are currently not available locally in their home country and thus equip them to be treat patients from across the globe.
There are multiple challenges. Ability of the patient to articulate their symptoms or state of health is very critical. Physical expressions (that physicians observe) out number the subset of “Gestures” that are available in Second Life menu. Metaphors and linguistic expressions widely vary across the various parts of the world. Limitation of the technology to assimilate them into digital communication (for now) is still being worked in advanced labs such as LindenLab. Na'vi language (in Oscar nominated movie Avatar) that has a limited vocabulary of about 1000 words may be the preview of a global language that can be used to communicate in Global communities such as Second Life. Adoption of Second Life physician training and preliminary patient screening is critical for its success. Hospitals and research institutions have leveraged Second Life as a test bed for new technologies and processes (e.g., Electronic Medical Record had been experimented in various shapes and forms in many Second Life Medical institutions).
Here is my avatar gazing at the various Healthcare options in Second Life.
Here are a few of them that may be of interest to the readers:
UC Davis’ Virtual Hallucinations - experience virtual hallucinations
Ann Myers Medical Center: detailed in the write up
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - an educational opportunity
Heart Murmurs - listen to cardiac murmurs
Medical Library at Health Info Island - a medical virtual community
Virtual Neurological Education Centre - training for neurological disorder treatment on a virtual environment
Hottie Hospital - gynecology, sperm donation, sex therapy etc..
Wheelies @ Second Ability – Identify with people with disability by experiencing the use of a wheelchair
Play2Train - training for emergency preparedness such as mass casualty incident simulation.
The Gene Pool – take on your favourite chromosome