Scenario planning

J Am Coll Radiol. 2011 Mar;8(3):175-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jacr.2010.08.022.


In facing future developments in health care, scenario planning offers a complementary approach to traditional strategic planning. Whereas traditional strategic planning typically consists of predicting the future at a single point on a chosen time horizon and mapping the preferred plans to address such a future, scenario planning creates stories about multiple likely potential futures on a given time horizon and maps the preferred plans to address the multiple described potential futures. Each scenario is purposefully different and specifically not a consensus worst-case, average, or best-case forecast; nor is scenario planning a process in probabilistic prediction. Scenario planning focuses on high-impact, uncertain driving forces that in the authors' example affect the field of radiology. Uncertainty is the key concept as these forces are mapped onto axes of uncertainty, the poles of which have opposed effects on radiology. One chosen axis was "market focus," with poles of centralized health care (government control) vs a decentralized private market. Another axis was "radiology's business model," with one pole being a unified, single specialty vs a splintered, disaggregated subspecialty. The third axis was "technology and science," with one pole representing technology enabling to radiology vs technology threatening to radiology. Selected poles of these axes were then combined to create 3 scenarios. One scenario, termed "entrepreneurialism," consisted of a decentralized private market, a disaggregated business model, and threatening technology and science. A second scenario, termed "socialized medicine," had a centralized market focus, a unified specialty business model, and enabling technology and science. A third scenario, termed "freefall," had a centralized market focus, a disaggregated business model, and threatening technology and science. These scenarios provide a range of futures that ultimately allow the identification of defined "signposts" that can suggest which basic features among the "possible futures" are playing out. Scenario planning provides for the implementation of appropriate constructed strategic responses. Scenarios allow for a pre-prepared game plan available for ready use as the future unfolds. They allow a deliberative response rather than a hastily constructed, urgent response.

MeSH terms

  • Forecasting*
  • Models, Organizational*
  • Organizational Objectives*
  • Radiology / organization & administration*
  • United States