Emerging technologies

We live an age of amazing technological advance. Predictions of what is just around the corner are many. But what are the implications for health?

See related blog posts about emerging technology.

Emerging technology includes any technology in development which may have an significant economic or social impact.

In healthcare, emerging technology may include:

  • artificial intelligence to reduce health inequalities
  • wearables to monitor patients remotely
  • algorithms to help make the best decisions for patients
Virtual reality at Gloucester
Two people experimenting with a virtual reality headset

Topol Review

The Topol Review (2019) identified the top 10 digital healthcare technologies likely to have an impact on the healthcare workforce:

  1. Telemedicine.
  2. Smartphone apps.
  3. Sensors and wearables.
  4. Reading the genome.
  5. Speech recognition and natural language processing.
  6. Virtual and augmented reality.
  7. Automated image interpretation using artificial intelligence (AI).
  8. Interventional and rehabilitative robotics.
  9. Predicitve analytics using AI.
  10. Writing the genome.

Read the report.

The review makes clear that the adoption of digital healthcare technologies should be based on evidence, of both clinical and cost-effectiveness, and knowledge of new technologies needs to be spread throughout the NHS.  It asserts that effective knowledge management is essential for a digitally ready NHS. 

CILIP Tech Review

The impact of AI, machine learning, automation and robotics on the information professions: a report for CILIP.

This report, written by Dr Andrew Cox, seeks to understand how AI, machine learning, process automation and robotics are either already impacting the daily work of healthcare information professionals or likely to do so in the near future.

Specifically, it seeks to answer the following questions:

  1. How do we ensure that today’s workforce has the skills and understanding they need in order to enable them to support their users?
  2. What are the ethical implications of our approach to these technologies?
  3. What should the skillset of the future workforce look like?

For more informaiton about the report, see the CILIP website.

How KLS staff can support emerging technologies

  • literature searches to find the evidence
  • spreading best-practice and knowledge of new technologies and their potential impact
  • championing and mobilising knowledge and use of emerging technologies within the organisation
  • training staff in digital, health and information literacy

Sue Lacey-Bryant talks about the the Topol Review and how NHS librarians can advance its agenda.

See the slide deck or watch the webinar, recorded on 15 January 2020.

Contact the Knowledge for Healthcare team on [email protected] for the slides in an accessible format.

Current and Emerging Technologies KLS Community of Practice (CoP)

  • keeps an eye on current and possible future developments in technology
  • thinks about their implications for healthcare
  • shares case studies and best practice

The community meets every other month. The CoP has a FutureNHS workspace.  Here you will find slide decks and documentation from events, examples of best practice, and a discussion forum to discuss ideas and promote your practice.

Register for FutureNHS and join the community of practice.

Gadget show

Part of the Digital and Data: Being the Human Bridge programme, 13 gadgets to help knowledge and library services staff do things differently.

Gift 1 - Highlight This

What is it?

A browser extension which enables you to set multiple words to be highlighted on a webpage, in any colour you wish! It’s free, flexible, and has no limit on terms. You can use familiar syntax such as * and ?, or Regex if you prefer.

What should you use it for?

It makes screening literature search results much faster. After a few minutes setting it up, you will be able to spot your keywords in titles and abstracts more easily. 

Links and useful resources:

Who to contact for more information

Coral Pepper [email protected].

Gift 2 - Microsoft OneNote

What is it?

OneNote is an app and part of Microsoft Office

What should you use it for?

Many teams in HEE use this to keep track of meeting notes, agendas, and ongoing work.  These are in one place making it easier to search and find information.

Links and useful resources:

Who to contact for more information

Dominic Gilroy - [email protected].

Gift 3 - using XLOOKUP

What is it?

XLOOKUP is a formula in MS Excel.  It allows you to search a reference set of data and add this data to another spreadsheet.

What should you use it for?

In HEE we maintain a set of data about NHS organisations using the OpenAthens Org ID as the reference point.  Using XLOOKUP, we can look up the OpenAthens Org ID and pull through all related data, such as Trust name and workforce numbers into other spreadsheets.

Links and useful resources:

Who to contact for more information

Richard Bridgen [email protected].  

Gift 4 - Google Custom Search Engine

What is it?

Programmable Search Engine by Google lets your build your own customisable search window to search your site or any site(s) you choose.  

What should you use it for?

Anyone can use it, it is very simple to set up.  You might want to create a search window for your own website, search a collection of websites for a particular purpose or to support a specific group of users.  

NHS users can apply to Google to have ads removed. Basic Look and Feel controls help you create a pleasing and professional looking interface.  More advanced features to customise your search.

Links and useful resources:

Who to contact for more information

Matt Holland [email protected].  

Gift 5 - transcribe your recordings

What is it?

Use Microsoft Word to transcribe videos and recordings. 

What should you use it for?

It’s great for quickly transcribing interviews, meeting recordings and audio files. Use it to make accessible transcripts.  You may record directly into Word or upload an audio file

Links and useful resources:

Who to contact for more information

Hannah Wood [email protected].   

Gift 6 - Microsoft Bookings

What is it?

Bookings is an app and part of Microsoft Office.

What should you use it for?

Use it to allow people outside your organisation to book time in your calendar.  For example, you may offer training or consultations to people in partner organisations.  Set the parameters for when bookings can be made and add a link to your signature block or email.  You may include just one person or the whole team.

Links and useful resources:

Who to contact for more information

Richard Bridgen [email protected].  

Gift 7 - ThingLink

What is it?

ThingLink is a digital tool which can be used to explain complex ideas and collect data on engagement. 

What should you use it for?

Use it to explain complex ideas, products or services with interactive visuals, and collect data on engagement. It can be used to carry out training in real environments remotely and connect physical environments with digital knowledge and information for better collaborative experiences.  It can be used to create interactive images, videos and virtual tours which can be used to improve not only patient experience but also clinical training of healthcare professionals by bringing images, video and 360° virtual tours to life with further information, voice and text notes as well as embedding other resources from the web, and can be used to document projects. 

Links and useful resources:

Who to contact for more information

Sam Unamboowe [email protected]

Gift 8 - end meetings early or start late

What is it?

A neat trick to automatically end meetings a little early, or start a little late!

What should you use it for?

Great for when your calendar is looking full. It gives you and your colleagues 5 minutes (or more if you fancy) breathing time between meetings. Use it for comfort breaks, tea runs, and precious prep time between meetings!

Links and useful resources:

Who to contact for more information

Hannah Wood [email protected]

Gift 9 - autoformat with macros

What is it?

Auto-format Literature searches in Excel, Word and Outlook with macros.

What should you use it for?

Load evidence search results into Excel, categorise according to the evidence hierarchy and then automatically add them to an email to be sent to the requester.  Uses the power of EXCEL macros which runs on Visual Basic.

Links and useful resources:

Who to contact for more information

Steven Walker [email protected].  

Gift 10 - LibKey Nomad

What is it?

A browser extension which brings seamless full text journal article links to where your users are on the web.  With Open Access and subscribed titles it boosts the range of articles available at a click and links to your request form for the rest. It enhances sites from PubMed to Wikipedia.

What should you use it for?

Drive up usage of your resources and make life easier for your users.  Embed it via PubMed outside tool. A gift to users they can share with their friends.  Demo it dropping links into PubMed or Wikipedia.  

Links and useful resources:

Who to contact for more information

Alan Fricker [email protected]

Gift 11 - Microsoft Delve

What is it?

Delve is an app and part of Microsoft Office.

What should you use it for?

An app to show the documents that you and other members of the team are working on.  Brings documents from all of your SharePoint sites, OneDrive folders and email attachments together in one place.  You can only access the documents you have permission to view.  Saves time in finding the documents you need to complete your tasks.

Links and useful resources:

Who to contact for more information

Richard Bridgen [email protected]

Gift 12 - OpenRefine

What is it?

OpenRefine is a powerful, free, open-source desktop application that looks like a spreadsheet, but operates like a database, allowing for increased discovery capabilities beyond programs like Microsoft Excel. 

What should you use it for?

Use to explore, clean, and link data on a large scale. Also useful to prepare legacy datasets for future engagement with AI (Artificial Intelligence) applications. Functions include: 

  • data normalisation 
  • column reorganisation 
  • faceting and clustering 
  • tracking operations 
  • exporting data 

Links and useful resources:

Who to contact for more information

Samamtha Unamboowe [email protected]

Gift 13 - Deduklick

What is it?

A reliable and transparent deduplication AI tool to remove duplicate records retrieved for systematic review searches with maximum precision in seconds.

What should you use it for?

Systematic review searchers can save themselves hours of work by using this tool. It  replaces the need for manual de-duplication of systematic review search sets. Achieves higher de-duplication accuracy than Endnote field customisations such as the Bramer method. Simply upload a RIS file (or text file in RIS format) of your combined search results and Deduklick does the rest, usually in less than a minute

Links and useful resources:

Who to contact for more information

Derek Yates [email protected].

Digital and Data: Being the Human Bridge Programme

A programme of events focusing on digital and data awareness and skills development. 

These events, organised by HEE and the Current and Emerging Technology KLS Community of Practice, will be a mixture of inspiration sessions, bite-sized training opportunities and external workshops. 

The themes being covered are listed below.  More details and booking arrangements will be sent via the network lists nearer the date for each event.

September 2022

12 September -  Can we help you find what you need today?  Digital Assistants and our users - an introduction to chatbots for KLS staff.

October 2022

Research Data Management for information professionals  UKeIG course.  HEE will fund places.

November 2022

Artificial intelligence for information professionals UKeIG course.  HEE will fund places.

December 2022

14 December - Artificial Intelligence: What is the role for NHS knowledge and library service managers?

January 2023

27 January - Continuous Improvement Tracker for CI Projects.  Documentation from the seesion includes:

March 2023

29 March - AI and ethics.

May 2023

Inspriring KLS librarians.

July 2023

Data visualisation  - information is beautiful.

August 2023

Libraries connected – coding clubs, makerspaces – library space for digital innovation.

September 2023

Digital Inclusion  - writing a digital strategy, working with other digital professionals. 

October 2023

Tech in Healthcare / Supporting patients.

November 2023

Inspiring library assistants.

December 2023

Research Data Management for information professionals.

KLS Technology Update

This is a monthly emailed current awareness bulletin, produced by the HEE Knowledge Management team.  It includes the latest news on current and emerging technologies and their application, and digital readiness.   

Subjects covered include artificial intelligence, intelligent search, machine learning and mobilising computable biomedical knowledge to support effective decisions, digital readiness and inclusion, or data stewardship and the ethics and controversies in this area. It is a monthly current awareness bulletin from the HEE Knowledge Management team.  

To see what's included, see September's KLS Technology Update

Technology Update

HEE's Technology Update is a weekly emailed bulletin also produced by the HEE Knowledge Management team.  It covers health technology more broadly, including themes from the TOPOL review.

To see what's included, see this edition of the Technology Update.

To sign-up for either update, complete the HEE KM Bulletins form and select either the Knowledge and Library Services Tech Bulletin, the Technology Update, or both.  Other bulletins are also available.

Recent KLS developments

Artificial Intelligence in Specialist Search and Knowledge Management

Virtual Reality: its role in healthcare and healthcare libraries - 2019 webinar


Virtual Reality in healthcare and Potential Applications to NHS Library Services - Nick Peres

Case Studies

The Vision of HoloLens 2 – Susan Smith

Loanable virtual reality headsets – Catherine Micklethwaite

Oculus Go and Quest: Practical uses of Portable VR – John Barbrook

VR: A two pronged approach – Mary Hill and Tim Jacobs

Virtual Reality as a Library Resource – Ben Vella

Contact the Knowledge for Healthcare team on [email protected] for the presentation and case studies in an accessible format.

Page last reviewed: 31 August 2022