Predicting the Future of Healthcare and eHealth with the Futures Wheel Method

Keywords: eHealth; Healthcare; Trends; Futures work; Predicting the future


By using information and communication technology (ICT), eHealth is a key enabler in improving healthcare, specifically its efficiency, productivity, quality, and patient satisfaction. Whilst eHealth applies technical developments to healthcare services, it is also about managing, finding, using, recording, and transmitting information to support health-related decisions. Moreover, eHealth encompasses a broad approach and commitment to improving healthcare through networking and co-operation. Thus healthcare providers need to have sufficient tools to predict and involve the possible futures of healthcare, specifically in the context of continuous eHealth development, implementation and innovations. This paper introduces the Futures Wheel (FW) method, describes the process for its use and some of its outcomes as a tool by which to achieve these goals. Based on experiences from over 60 FW working groups, the authors suggest that the FW method helps to see the possible futures of healthcare and eases the necessary adaptation inherent in eHealth.  The FW method provides information and knowledge that professionals can utilise both to influence their future and to gain knowledge about alternative futures. The FW method is suggested for healthcare professionals who want to predict alternative futures of healthcare and eHealth in order to make important decisions that may have far-reaching consequences.


Doz Y, Kosonen M. Embedding strategic agility a leadership agenda for accelerating business model renewal. Long range planning. Int J StrategManag 2010:43:370e382 DOI:10.1016/j.lrp.2009.07.006

Barber M, Donnelly K, Rizvi S. (2013). An avalanche is coming: Higher education and the revolution ahead. Paper published by the Institute for Public Policy Research. London, UK. Available at: accessed 12 December 2020.

Shekelle PG, Pronovost PJ, Wachter RM, et al. The top patient safety strategies that can be encouraged for adoption now. Ann Intern Med 2013;158(5 Pt 2):365–368. DOI: 10.7326/0003-4819-158-5-201303051-00001

Amara R. Views on futures research methodology. Futures 1991;2(6)3:645-649. DOI:10.1016/0016-3287(91)90085-G

Thimbleby H. Technology and the future of healthcare. J Public Health Res 2013;2(3):e28. DOI: 10.4081/jphr.2013.e28

Bushko RG. Strategy for the future of health: Goal formation and ITicine. Stud Health Technol Inform. 2009;149:3-18. PMID: 19745468

Wikipedia. (2020). Digital Therapeutics. Available at:,a%20medical%20disorder%20or%20disease accessed 13 December 2020

Bickmore T, Picard RW. Future of caring machines. Stud Health Technol Inform. 2005;118:132-145. PMID: 16301775

Bengston DN. The Futures Wheel: A method for exploring the implications of social–ecological change. Soc Natur Resour 2016 Mar 3;29(3):374-379. DOI: 10.1080/08941920.2015.1054980

Palmer J, Ellis N. Methodology for a think tank: the future of military and veterans' health. Foresight 2009;11(3):14-27. DOI: 10.1108/14636680910963918

Pryor W. From crops to care: The changing nature of healthcare in rural Australia. J Futures Stud 2014;18(4):119-130. DOI:

Hopia H, Hakala A. Finnish social and health care professionals’ perspective of the future. Int J Healthcare 2016;2(1):12-20. DOI: 10.5430/ijh.v2n1p12

Glenn JC. Participatory method. In J.C. Glenn and T.J. Gordon (Eds.). Futures Research Methodology - Version 2.0, AC/UNU. Washington: Millenium Project, DC, CD-ROM. 2002.

Glenn JC. The futures wheel. In Glenn JC, Gordon TJ (Eds.). Futures Research Methodology - Version 2.0, AC/UNU. Washington: Millenium Project, DC, CD-ROM. 2002.

Jackson M. Practical Foresight Guide. Chapter 3 – Methods 2013. Available at accessed 30 January 2019.

Apel H. The Future Workshop. Deutsches Institut für Erwachsenenbildung. 2004. Available at:, accessed 30 January 2019.

Jungk R, Mullert N. Future Workshops: How to Create Desirable Futures. London: Institute for Social Inventions, 1987.

Patton MQ. Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods, (4th ed.). California: Thousand Oaks, Sage Publications, 2015.

Hauptman A, Sharan Y. Foresight of evolving security threats posed by emerging technologies. Foresight 2013;15(5):375–391. DOI: 10.1108/FS-05-2012-0036

Greengard S. The Internet of Things. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2015.

Hajkowicz D, Cook H, Littleboy A. Our future world. Global megatrends that will change the way we live. The 2012 revision. Canberra: CSIRO. 2012. DOI: 10.4225/08/584ee9706689b

WHO. Synthesis Paper of the Thematic Working Groups. Health Workforce 2030. Towards a Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health. World Health Organization 2015. Available at: accessed 30 January 2019.

Mohamed K. How futurists look to uncertainty phenomena? Int J Soc Sci Humanity Stud 2013;3(1):79–82. DOI: 10.7763/IJSSH.2013.V3.199

Amer M, Daim T, Jetter A. A review of scenario planning. Futures 2013;46:23–40. DOI: 10.1016/j.futures.2012.10.003

Lipsitz L. Understanding healthcare as a complex system. The foundation for unintended consequences. JAMA 2012;308(3):243–244. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2012.7551

Sitra. (2020). Megatrends 2020. Available at: accessed 11.12.2020.

Göll E, Evers-Wölk M. (2014). Meetings and conventions 2030: A study of megatrends shaping our industry. Available at: accessed 13 December 2020.

Deloitte.(2016). Health Care Foresight. Identifying megatrends. Available at: accessed 13 December 2020.

Gabriel JA. Scientific enquiry into the future. Eur J Futures Res 2013;2:31. DOI 10.1007/s40309-013-0031-4

Passig D. Future-time-span as a cognitive skill in future studies. Futures Res Quart 2004;19(4):27–47. Available at: accessed 30 January 2019.

How to Cite
Kouri, P., Hopia, H., & Hakala, A. (2020). Predicting the Future of Healthcare and eHealth with the Futures Wheel Method. Journal of the International Society for Telemedicine and EHealth, 8, e22 (1-6).
Special Theme : Telehealth in Nursing