Business in Virtual Worlds, Second Life

Healthcare Mash-Up: Imagine Second Life, IBM Avatars and Google Health

Speculation maybe, but hints of things to come in a series of recent announcements in the healthcare field:

* IBM is opening a healthcare sim in Second Life whose purpose is to provide a 3D demo of how its information systems facilitate better patient care and information management. Nothing like walking through a “real” simulation to see the impact of what’s usually invisible, namely technology.

* In a separate development, IBM has created patient avatars to help clinicians visualize patient records against a map of the patient body:

“It’s like Google Earth for the body,” said IBM Researcher Andre Elisseeff, who leads the healthcare projects at IBM’s Zurich lab. “In hopes of speeding the move toward electronic healthcare records, we’ve tried to make information easily accessible for healthcare providers by combining medical data with visual representation, making it as simple as possible to interact with data that can improve patient care.”

* Meanwhile, over at Google, a project where your medical record can be stored in their databases (attached, I’m sure, to Google ad words!). Being tested with the Cleveland Clinic, “the pilot project … will involve 1,500 to 10,000 patients at the Cleveland Clinic who volunteered to an electronic transfer of their personal health records so they can be retrieved through Google’s new service, which won’t be open to the general public.

So imagine a few generations of technology and development down the road, and a mash-up in which real patients attend a hospital, transfer their records to Google, access health-related information based on keywords through things like Google knols, and then visit a virtual hospital in which your avatar has embedded health information that can be used as a way to solicit an informed second opinion (hey, why not, Second Life, Second Opinon!), perhaps by your real life physician.

Either completely frightening or an example of how vertical, cross-company, and cross-reality experiences will be crafted.


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