Health IS Technology Blog

10 Emerging Technologies & Applications


"Innovation is the calling card of the future." ~ Anna Eshoo

Emerging Technologies represented by man using a jetpack.

Emerging technologies and innovations are a result of a need for progress in society. It's about the needs and wants of the many. We want hospitals that can leverage more timely health information and research to provide us with faster and more definitive diagnoses. We want education systems that teach our kids to better tap into modern tools (e.g. technology). And we want businesses that offer everything and anything digitized, personalized, and ideally operating in real-time (e.g. SIRI, Google Now, Fitbit, etc.). This promotes a culture of both local and international competition, in which organizations race to find, develop, and properly time the introduction of novel solutions to suit societal demands. In a survey conducted by the International Competition Network (i.e. ICN) the results showed that the strongest advocates of competition were, "Among the academic community, consumer associations, media, and nongovernmental organizations". This is where many emerging technologies may flourish. 

Furthermore according to a World Economic Forum (i.e. WEF) report on the Future of Jobs, "Leading up to 2017, advancements in the Internet of Things, advanced manufacturing, and new energy supplies and technologies are expected to play more of a role in the shifting workforce environment. Between 2018 and 2020, progress in robotics and autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and biotechnology and genomics are expected to add their effects" (GovTech.com). Emerging technologies enable us to shift business improvement thinking from 'we should' to 'we can and we will' both for our customers and ourselves. Whether you're an employee or a client, this is definitely great news. 

"Global society is embracing brave new ideas and technologies at an unprecedented pace and scale. The good news is that a growing number of elected officials around the world understand these challenges and they're confronting problems with mission-critical digital government leadership that will ultimately help solve societal problems while transforming the public sector into an innovative leader for the new economy of the 21st century" (Washington.edu). So what are some of the leading emerging technologies we can begin to look for in 2017 and beyond? 

1. Augmented Reality

"The technology basically allows someone to point a smartphone at an object and find out information about it" (CenterDigitalEd.com). Colleges could use this to further educate students, faculty, and guests by creating an augmented reality layer over the campus so that they could easily find out what things are available in different areas, get a sneak peek into what's going on in nearby buildings, and more confidently navigate the environment. Digital apps like Aurasma are already allowing several colleges to do just that. 

2. Internet of DNA

Internet of DNA technology being used by doctor for DNA research."Imagine that in the near future, you had the bad luck to develop cancer. A doctor might order DNA tests on your tumor, knowing that every cancer is propelled by specific mutations. If it were feasible to look up the experience of everyone else who shared your tumor's particular mutations, as well as what drugs those people took, etc. that doctor might have a good idea of how to treat you. The unfolding calamity in genomics is that a great deal of this life-saving information, though already collected, is inaccessible. 'The limiting factor is not the technology,' says David Shaywitz, chief medical officer of DNAnexus, a bioinformatics company that hosts several large collections of gene data. 'It's whether people are willing'" (TechnologyReviews.com). The next era of medicine will depend on access to large-scale information for more modern medical education, research, and diagnoses. 

3. Game-Based Learning

"Game play has traversed the realm of recreation and infiltrated commerce, productivity, and education, proving to be a useful training and motivation tool. The University of Minnesota's School of Nursing has partnered with the Minnesota Hospital Association and the technology firm, VitalSims, to develop web-based interactive games that engage nursing students with real-life scenarios" (InnovationExcellence.com). Gaming is already incredibly popular among many people throughout the world. And, if designed to educate rather than simply entertain, the way we think about and approach education could become more fulfilling for students and educators, everywhere. Apps like Memrise, may be the very beginning. 

4 - 10. Emerging Technologies

4. Machine Translation, Language Assistance Tools

  • "Teachers can teach and students can learn, no matter what language each speaks! Of course, this could certainly also be quite helpful in language classes" (EmergingEdTech.com). 

5. Machine & Computer Vision

    The company, Chronocam, has set aside $15 million to build innovative machine vision sensors and systems: "The sensor technology is inspired by biological eyes, acquiring and processing the visual information in an extremely performing yet highly efficient way. Their technology outperforms conventional vision systems currently used everywhere, offering disruptive solutions for problems considered until now out of reach and setting a new standard in machine vision" (CrunchBase.com). This is the technology that will enable autonomous vehicles or 'smart cars'. 

6. Speech Recognition

  • This is widely used, today. "In the health care sector, speech recognition can be implemented in front-end or back-end of the medical documentation process. Front-end speech recognition is where the provider dictates into a speech-recognition engine. The words are displayed as they are spoken, and the dictator is responsible for editing and signing off on the document" (Wikipedia.org). 

7. Artificial Intelligence

  • "The age of Artificial Intelligence is upon us. True artificial intelligence has been a part of search engine technology since about 2013. But as of May 2016, Google has given it an official name: Machine Intelligence" (How Google and Facebook Utilize AI).

8. Civic Technology 

  • "Spending on civic tech is growing 14 times faster than spending on traditional technology. We saw a real turning point in civic tech last year when Andreessen Horowitz led a $15 million investment in OpenGov, a cloud-based software that helps governments visualize and track budgets" (Forbes.com). Civic Technology

9. Nanotechnology & Genetic Engineering

  • "The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2016 has been awarded to Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L. Feringa for their design and production of molecular machines" (NobelPrize.org). 

10. Quantum Computing

  • "Quantum computing is a practical tool for extremely complex predictive analysis, and machine learning where you need to assess many variables and many patterns and test models against it. This is relevant in the area of drug discovery, cybersecurity, business, finance, investment, health care, logistics, and planning" (Bloomberg.com). 


"Last year at the annual World Economic Forum, a pronouncement was made that the value of digital transformation — for society and the IT industry combined — could be greater than $100 trillion by 2025. That's a staggering number! And, if the public sector is going to keep up with the staggering pace of digital transformation and apply it to citizen-centric experiences, it must support procurement and integration of digital technologies, whether those are existing, new, or emerging technologies" (NextGov.com). So the question I pose to you now is, what emerging technologies are you looking forward to most? Take a moment to think about your ideal digital future, then think about what you can do to help us all get there. After all, it will take the entire global team to realize that future. Make a plan to help us progress and reach that future, starting today. 

USF Health Information Systems is a comprehensive technology group serving the needs of the Academic Research and Clinical missions. We partner with our customers to deliver agile responsive technology solutions that drive business value and make life better for our students and patients. Be informed at all times by visiting health.usf.edu/is/. You can connect directly via phone by calling (813) 974-6288 or by sending us an email via support@health.usf.edu, after hours.

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Bekah Witten
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Bekah is the content writer for the University of South Florida's Health Information Systems, and a recent graduate from the University of Tampa.