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