Scenario Planning for the Future of Health Care and Medicine

Since 2012, Futures Strategy Group has been deeply involved in exploring the future of health care and medicine in the US.  This work has evolved in partnership with the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), a relationship that continues to the present day.  

ACGME plays a hugely important role in overseeing the preparation of future physician specialists and subspecialists in the US, a job that is increasingly challenging, given longer-term uncertainties surrounding health care and medical systems in this country.  For example: 

  • What will health care delivery look like?
  • Who will pay for it?  How will it be regulated?
  • What physician knowledge and skills will be required?
  • What role will technology play – for example, embedded sensors, artificial intelligence and genomics? Will demand for physicians and other health care workers be affected?
  • What new health professions will emerge? How will they interface with traditional providers?

Ultimately, ACGME needs to understand the base of knowledge and experience that physicians in training will need to master in order to effectively serve the public.  But in doing so, it must comprehend the full, plausible range of health care settings in which medicine will evolve over the next 20 to 25 years.  This is where “alternative futures” scenario-based planning comes in.  There is just too much uncertainty to bank on any one "most likely" future health care setting.  Wisely, ACGME has been contemplating a range of plausible healthcare settings, including those that challenge internal assumptions. Critically, senior ACGME leaders and stakeholders have been intimately involved in the scenario creation and the workshops designed to derive strategic insights. 

In 2018, ACGME initiated its second round of scenario planning.  FSG is supporting the development of a new (second) set of health care scenarios and facilitating a series of workshops to gain insights into future health care delivery models and to craft corresponding strategies for preparing medical residents for the full range of changes the future could bring. 

ACGME is sharing the scenario-planning tools that FSG has helped develop with other health care and medical education institutions that share common goals, priorities and values, including the American Board of Family Medicine and the University of Illinois College of Nursing.  

For additional background on FSG’s scenario-planning work with ACGME, please see this case study authored by Charles Thomas and Thomas Nasca, MD who are, respectively, ACGME Vice President for Strategic Planning and ACGME President and Chief Executive Officer.