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Towards an Ethics for the Healthcare Metaverse

Year 2023, Volume: 3 Issue: 2, 181 - 189, 31.12.2023
https://doi.org/10.57019/jmv.1318774

Abstract

Harnessing the metaverse for medical and healthcare purposes is currently heralded as the “next frontier in healthcare.” However, to ensure the “amazing possibilities” of the so-called “healthcare metaverse” can be fully realized, it’s vital to proactively identify and address potential challenges, especially those of an ethical nature. This paper aims to spotlight these ethical challenges within the healthcare metaverse and chart a course for confronting these issues and cultivating an ethics framework for this emerging field. We will demonstrate that the ethical quandaries within the healthcare metaverse bear striking similarities to those seen in digital medicine, an arena that grapples with vast quantities of data and the application of artificial intelligence. Reflecting on these parallels, we explore how six central ethical challenges in digital medicine – 1) accessibility, 2) fairness, 3) discrimination and bias, 4) responsibility, 5) privacy, data safety and security, and data ownership, as well as 6) environmental issues – unfold within the healthcare metaverse’s virtual boundaries and show that the metaverse’s immersive nature further intensifies these ethical challenges. In view of this, we advocate that the next phase in forging ethics for the healthcare metaverse involves a nuanced reconsideration of current ethical methods and principles in digital medicine, with an emphasis on the immersive element of the metaverse. We foresee the concept of embodiment within virtual settings to be at the heart of this immersion-focused reassessment.

Supporting Institution

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation), Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF, Federal Ministry of Education and Research), and Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD, German Academic Exchange Service)

References

  • Chengoden, R., et al. (2023). Metaverse for healthcare: A survey on potential applications, challenges and future directions. IEEE Access, 11, 12765-12795. https://www.doi.org/10.1109/access.2023.3241628
  • Zabeu, S. (2022). Metaverse could be the next technological step in the healthcare sector. Network King. Retrieved July 13, 2022, from https://network-king.net/metaverse-could-be-the-next-technological-step-in-the-healthcare-sector/
  • Varhsneya, R. (2022). Metaverse: The next frontier in healthcare? Information Week. Retrieved June 21, 2023, from https://www.informationweek.com/big-data/metaverse-the-next-frontier-in-healthcare-
  • Marr, B. (2022). The amazing possibilities of healthcare in the metaverse. Forbes. Retrieved June 21, 2023 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2022/02/23/the-amazing-possibilities-of-healthcare-in-the-metaverse/
  • Song, Y.-T. & Qin, J. (2022). Metaverse and personal healthcare. Procedia Computer Science, 210, 189-197. https://www.doi.org/10.1016/j.procs.2022.10.136
  • Bock, A. (2022). Revolution des Gesundheitswesens – Healthcare Metaverse ist keine Zukunftsmusik mehr. BearingPoint. Retrieved February 13, 2023 from https://www.bearingpoint.com/de-de/ueber-uns/pressemitteilungen-und-medienberichte/pressemitteilungen/revolution-des-gesundheitswesens/
  • Ahmadi Marzaleh, M., Peyravi, M. & Shaygani, F. (2022). A revolution in health: Opportunities and challenges of the Metaverse. EXCLI Journal, 21, 791-792. https://doi.org/10.17179/excli2022-5017
  • Wang, G., et al. (2022). Development of metaverse for intelligent healthcare. Nature Machine Intelligence, 4 (11), 922-929, https://www.doi.org/10.1038/s42256-022-00549-6
  • Bansal, G. et al. (2022). Healthcare in Metaverse: A Survey on Current Metaverse Applications in Healthcare. IEEE Access, 10, 119914-119946, https://www.doi.org/10.1109/access.2022.3219845
  • Mozumder, M. A. I. et al. (2022). Overview: Technology Roadmap of the Future Trend of Metaverse based on IoT, Blockchain, AI Technique, and Medical Domain Metaverse Activity, in 24th International Conference on Advanced Communication Technology (ICACT), 256-261, https://www.doi.org/10.23919/ICACT53585.2022.9728808
  • Usmani, S. S., Sharath, M. & Mehendale, M. (2022). Future of mental health in the metaverse. General Psychiatrtry, 35 (4), e100825, https://www.doi.org/10.1136/gpsych-2022-100825
  • Cerasa, A., et al. (2022). The promise of the metaverse in mental health: the new era of MEDverse. Heliyon, 8 (11), e11762, https://www.doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2022.e11762
  • Damar, M. (2022). What the Literature on Medicine, Nursing, Public Health, Midwifery, and Dentistry Reveals: An Overview of the Rapidly Approaching Metaverse. Journal of Metaverse, 2 (2), 62-70, https://www.doi.org/10.57019/jmv.1132962
  • Ahuja, A. S. et al. (2023). The Digital Metaverse: Applications in Artificial Intelligence, Medical Education, and Integrative Health. Integrative Medicine Research, 12 (1), 100917, https://www.doi.org/10.1016/j.imr.2022.100917
  • Suh, I., McKinney, T. & Siu, Ka-Chun (2023). Current Perspective of Metaverse Application in Medical Education, Research and Patient Care. Virtual Worlds, 2 (2), 115-128, https://www.doi.org/10.3390/virtualworlds2020007
  • Plechata, A., Makransky, G. & Bohm, R. (2022). Can extended reality in the metaverse revolutionise health communication? NPJ Digital Medicine, 5 (1), 132, https://www.doi.org/10.1038/s41746-022-00682-x
  • Jung, S. et al. (2019). Augmented Reality in the Health Domain: Projecting Spatial Augmented Reality Visualizations on a Perceiver's Body for Health Communication Effects. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 22 (2), 142-150, https://www.doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2018.0028
  • Dwivedi, Y. K. et al. (2022). Metaverse beyond the hype: Multidisciplinary perspectives on emerging challenges, opportunities, and agenda for research, practice and policy. International Journal of Information Management, 66, 102542, https://www.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijinfomgt.2022.102542
  • Spence, E. H. (2008). Meta Ethics for the Metaverse: The Ethics of Virtual Worlds, in Current Issues in Computing and Philosophy, Adam, B., Waelbers, K. & Brey, P. Eds., 3-12, Amsterdam: IOS Press.
  • Benjamins, R., Rubio Viñuela, Y. & Alonso, C. (2023). Social and ethical challenges of the metaverse. AI and Ethics, 3 (3), 689-697, https://www.doi.org/10.1007/s43681-023-00278-5
  • Bang, J. & Kim, J.-Y. (2023). Metaverse Ethics for Healthcare Using AI Technology: Challenges and Risks, in Culture and Computing, Rauterberg, M. Ed., 367-378, Cham: Springer Nature Switzerland.
  • Fernandez, C. B. & Hui, P. (2022). Life, the Metaverse and Everything: An Overview of Privacy, Ethics, and Governance in Metaverse, in 2022 IEEE 42nd International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems Workshops (ICDCSW), 272-277, Bologna, https://www.doi.org/10.1109/ICDCSW56584.2022.00058
  • Kostick-Quenet, K. & Rahimzadeh, V. (2023). Ethical hazards of health data governance in the metaverse. Nature Machine Intelligence, 5 (5), 480-482, https://www.doi.org/10.1038/s42256-023-00658-w
  • Curtis, C. & Brolan, C. E. (2023). Health care in the metaverse. The Medical Journal of Austalia, 218 (1), 46, https://www.doi.org/10.5694/mja2.51793
  • Li, F., Ruijs, N. & Lu, Y. (2022). Ethics & AI: A Systematic Review on Ethical Concerns and Related Strategies for Designing with AI in Healthcare. AI, 4 (1), 28-53, https://www.doi.org/10.3390/ai4010003
  • Morley, J. et al. (2020). The ethics of AI in health care. Social Science & Medicine, 260, 113172, https://www.doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2020.113172
  • Karimian, G., Petelos, E. & Evers, S. M. A. A. (2022). The ethical issues of the application of artificial intelligence in healthcare: a systematic scoping review. AI and Ethics, 2 (4), 539-551, https://www.doi.org/10.1007/s43681-021-00131-7
  • Ball, M. (2022). The metaverse. And how it will revolutionize everything. New York: W.W. Norton.
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  • Bowman, D. A. & McMahan, R.P. (2007). Virtual reality: How much immersion is enough? Computer, 40 (7), 36-43. https://www.doi.org/10.1109/mc.2007.257
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  • Jee, Y.-S. (2023). Application of metaverse technology to exercise rehabilitation: present and future. Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation, 19 (2), 93-94, https://www.doi.org/10.12965/jer.2346050.025
  • Musamih, A., et al. (2022). Metaverse in healthcare: applications, challenges, and future Directions. IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine, https://www.doi.org/10.1109/mce.2022.3223522
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  • Bhattacharya, S., Varshney, S. & Tripathi, S. (2022). Harnessing public health with "metaverse" technology. Frontiers in Public Health, 10, 1030574. https://www.doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2022.1030574
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Towards an Ethics for the Healthcare Metaverse

Year 2023, Volume: 3 Issue: 2, 181 - 189, 31.12.2023
https://doi.org/10.57019/jmv.1318774

Abstract

Harnessing the metaverse for medical and healthcare purposes is currently heralded as the “next frontier in healthcare.” However, to ensure the “amazing possibilities” of the so-called “healthcare metaverse” can be fully realized, it’s vital to proactively identify and address potential challenges, especially those of an ethical nature. This paper aims to spotlight these ethical challenges within the healthcare metaverse and chart a course for confronting these issues and cultivating an ethics framework for this emerging field. We will demonstrate that the ethical quandaries within the healthcare metaverse bear striking similarities to those seen in digital medicine, an arena that grapples with vast quantities of data and the application of artificial intelligence. Reflecting on these parallels, we explore how six central ethical challenges in digital medicine – 1) accessibility, 2) fairness, 3) discrimination and bias, 4) responsibility, 5) privacy, data safety and security, and data ownership, as well as 6) environmental issues – unfold within the healthcare metaverse’s virtual boundaries and show that the metaverse’s immersive nature further intensifies these ethical challenges. In view of this, we advocate that the next phase in forging ethics for the healthcare metaverse involves a nuanced reconsideration of current ethical methods and principles in digital medicine, with an emphasis on the immersive element of the metaverse. We foresee the concept of embodiment within virtual settings to be at the heart of this immersion-focused reassessment.

References

  • Chengoden, R., et al. (2023). Metaverse for healthcare: A survey on potential applications, challenges and future directions. IEEE Access, 11, 12765-12795. https://www.doi.org/10.1109/access.2023.3241628
  • Zabeu, S. (2022). Metaverse could be the next technological step in the healthcare sector. Network King. Retrieved July 13, 2022, from https://network-king.net/metaverse-could-be-the-next-technological-step-in-the-healthcare-sector/
  • Varhsneya, R. (2022). Metaverse: The next frontier in healthcare? Information Week. Retrieved June 21, 2023, from https://www.informationweek.com/big-data/metaverse-the-next-frontier-in-healthcare-
  • Marr, B. (2022). The amazing possibilities of healthcare in the metaverse. Forbes. Retrieved June 21, 2023 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2022/02/23/the-amazing-possibilities-of-healthcare-in-the-metaverse/
  • Song, Y.-T. & Qin, J. (2022). Metaverse and personal healthcare. Procedia Computer Science, 210, 189-197. https://www.doi.org/10.1016/j.procs.2022.10.136
  • Bock, A. (2022). Revolution des Gesundheitswesens – Healthcare Metaverse ist keine Zukunftsmusik mehr. BearingPoint. Retrieved February 13, 2023 from https://www.bearingpoint.com/de-de/ueber-uns/pressemitteilungen-und-medienberichte/pressemitteilungen/revolution-des-gesundheitswesens/
  • Ahmadi Marzaleh, M., Peyravi, M. & Shaygani, F. (2022). A revolution in health: Opportunities and challenges of the Metaverse. EXCLI Journal, 21, 791-792. https://doi.org/10.17179/excli2022-5017
  • Wang, G., et al. (2022). Development of metaverse for intelligent healthcare. Nature Machine Intelligence, 4 (11), 922-929, https://www.doi.org/10.1038/s42256-022-00549-6
  • Bansal, G. et al. (2022). Healthcare in Metaverse: A Survey on Current Metaverse Applications in Healthcare. IEEE Access, 10, 119914-119946, https://www.doi.org/10.1109/access.2022.3219845
  • Mozumder, M. A. I. et al. (2022). Overview: Technology Roadmap of the Future Trend of Metaverse based on IoT, Blockchain, AI Technique, and Medical Domain Metaverse Activity, in 24th International Conference on Advanced Communication Technology (ICACT), 256-261, https://www.doi.org/10.23919/ICACT53585.2022.9728808
  • Usmani, S. S., Sharath, M. & Mehendale, M. (2022). Future of mental health in the metaverse. General Psychiatrtry, 35 (4), e100825, https://www.doi.org/10.1136/gpsych-2022-100825
  • Cerasa, A., et al. (2022). The promise of the metaverse in mental health: the new era of MEDverse. Heliyon, 8 (11), e11762, https://www.doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2022.e11762
  • Damar, M. (2022). What the Literature on Medicine, Nursing, Public Health, Midwifery, and Dentistry Reveals: An Overview of the Rapidly Approaching Metaverse. Journal of Metaverse, 2 (2), 62-70, https://www.doi.org/10.57019/jmv.1132962
  • Ahuja, A. S. et al. (2023). The Digital Metaverse: Applications in Artificial Intelligence, Medical Education, and Integrative Health. Integrative Medicine Research, 12 (1), 100917, https://www.doi.org/10.1016/j.imr.2022.100917
  • Suh, I., McKinney, T. & Siu, Ka-Chun (2023). Current Perspective of Metaverse Application in Medical Education, Research and Patient Care. Virtual Worlds, 2 (2), 115-128, https://www.doi.org/10.3390/virtualworlds2020007
  • Plechata, A., Makransky, G. & Bohm, R. (2022). Can extended reality in the metaverse revolutionise health communication? NPJ Digital Medicine, 5 (1), 132, https://www.doi.org/10.1038/s41746-022-00682-x
  • Jung, S. et al. (2019). Augmented Reality in the Health Domain: Projecting Spatial Augmented Reality Visualizations on a Perceiver's Body for Health Communication Effects. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 22 (2), 142-150, https://www.doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2018.0028
  • Dwivedi, Y. K. et al. (2022). Metaverse beyond the hype: Multidisciplinary perspectives on emerging challenges, opportunities, and agenda for research, practice and policy. International Journal of Information Management, 66, 102542, https://www.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijinfomgt.2022.102542
  • Spence, E. H. (2008). Meta Ethics for the Metaverse: The Ethics of Virtual Worlds, in Current Issues in Computing and Philosophy, Adam, B., Waelbers, K. & Brey, P. Eds., 3-12, Amsterdam: IOS Press.
  • Benjamins, R., Rubio Viñuela, Y. & Alonso, C. (2023). Social and ethical challenges of the metaverse. AI and Ethics, 3 (3), 689-697, https://www.doi.org/10.1007/s43681-023-00278-5
  • Bang, J. & Kim, J.-Y. (2023). Metaverse Ethics for Healthcare Using AI Technology: Challenges and Risks, in Culture and Computing, Rauterberg, M. Ed., 367-378, Cham: Springer Nature Switzerland.
  • Fernandez, C. B. & Hui, P. (2022). Life, the Metaverse and Everything: An Overview of Privacy, Ethics, and Governance in Metaverse, in 2022 IEEE 42nd International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems Workshops (ICDCSW), 272-277, Bologna, https://www.doi.org/10.1109/ICDCSW56584.2022.00058
  • Kostick-Quenet, K. & Rahimzadeh, V. (2023). Ethical hazards of health data governance in the metaverse. Nature Machine Intelligence, 5 (5), 480-482, https://www.doi.org/10.1038/s42256-023-00658-w
  • Curtis, C. & Brolan, C. E. (2023). Health care in the metaverse. The Medical Journal of Austalia, 218 (1), 46, https://www.doi.org/10.5694/mja2.51793
  • Li, F., Ruijs, N. & Lu, Y. (2022). Ethics & AI: A Systematic Review on Ethical Concerns and Related Strategies for Designing with AI in Healthcare. AI, 4 (1), 28-53, https://www.doi.org/10.3390/ai4010003
  • Morley, J. et al. (2020). The ethics of AI in health care. Social Science & Medicine, 260, 113172, https://www.doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2020.113172
  • Karimian, G., Petelos, E. & Evers, S. M. A. A. (2022). The ethical issues of the application of artificial intelligence in healthcare: a systematic scoping review. AI and Ethics, 2 (4), 539-551, https://www.doi.org/10.1007/s43681-021-00131-7
  • Ball, M. (2022). The metaverse. And how it will revolutionize everything. New York: W.W. Norton.
  • Mystakidis, S. (2022). Metaverse. Encyclopedia, 2 (1), 486-497. https://www.doi.org/10.3390/encyclopedia2010031
  • Bowman, D. A. & McMahan, R.P. (2007). Virtual reality: How much immersion is enough? Computer, 40 (7), 36-43. https://www.doi.org/10.1109/mc.2007.257
  • Shugalo, I. (2022). Is a virtual hospital the new normal? IT Transition. Retrieved Febraury 13, 2023 from https://www.itransition.com/blog/virtual-hospital
  • Patel, K., et al. (2019). The virtual hospital. Future Healthcare Journal, 6, 83. https://www.doi.org/10.7861/futurehosp.6-1-s83
  • Jee, Y.-S. (2023). Application of metaverse technology to exercise rehabilitation: present and future. Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation, 19 (2), 93-94, https://www.doi.org/10.12965/jer.2346050.025
  • Musamih, A., et al. (2022). Metaverse in healthcare: applications, challenges, and future Directions. IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine, https://www.doi.org/10.1109/mce.2022.3223522
  • Garavand, A. & Aslani, N. (2022). Metaverse phenomenon and its impact on health: A scoping review. Informatics in Medicine Unlocked, 32. https://www.doi.org/10.1016/j.imu.2022.101029
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Details

Primary Language English
Subjects Information Systems (Other), Virtual and Mixed Reality, Artificial Intelligence (Other)
Journal Section Research Articles
Authors

Max TRETTER 0000-0001-8067-247X

David SAMHAMMER This is me 0000-0003-3111-9525

Tabea OTT This is me 0000-0002-4247-5085

Peter DABROCK This is me 0000-0001-6928-9912

Project Number SFB 1483 – Project-ID 442419336, EmpkinS; 01GP1903A vALID; 01GP2202B PRIMA-AI
Early Pub Date October 19, 2023
Publication Date December 31, 2023
Submission Date June 26, 2023
Published in Issue Year 2023 Volume: 3 Issue: 2

Cite

APA TRETTER, M., SAMHAMMER, D., OTT, T., DABROCK, P. (2023). Towards an Ethics for the Healthcare Metaverse. Journal of Metaverse, 3(2), 181-189. https://doi.org/10.57019/jmv.1318774

Journal of Metaverse
is indexed and abstracted by
Scopus and DOAJ

Publisher
Izmir Academy Association
www.izmirakademi.org