The future operating environment for professional medical regulation

What were the key findings?

  • The research involved identifying the key ‘drivers of change’ in the context in which we work. In other words, the factors which are changeable and most strongly shape that environment. Examples of those identified include patient and public expectations (eg with respect to self-care) and changing professional roles (eg with respect to requirements for generalists due in part to a rise in co-morbidities);

  • The drivers were assessed for those that were most likely and those with the highest impact. A set of four scenarios which model how our environment could plausibly look like over the next fifteen years were then developed. These scenarios all assumed the predictable drivers would apply, but made a different set of assumptions about the way in which the unpredictable drivers would apply.

  • The four scenarios varied in terms of how positively there were regarded by those taking part in the workshop that developed them. At one end of the spectrum, a scenario named Conspiracy or Carelessness, looked at challenges such as inadequate funding and a lack of adoption of new technologies. At the other end of the spectrum the scenario “cautious optimism” considered the rapid adoption of new technologies and workforce supply meeting demand. For each scenario the implications for the GMC are considered.

  • The scenarios are pictures of how the world might look in the future; they are not forecasts, or predictions of the future. Each scenario contains a set of different assumptions. It is likely that the actual future might contain aspects from each of the scenarios, rather than mimicking one scenario in its entirety.

Why did we commission this research?

The research was designed to inform our strategic planning by modelling plausible trends and developments in our ‘operating environment’ over the next 10 to 15 years. By operating environment, we mean the key parts of the context we work within. Considering how that environment may change will help us to think through how we may need to try to influence, or act to take account of, such developments to remain relevant and effective. 

What did the research involve?

The research was mixed-methods, including quantitative desk based research focusing on drivers of change and indicators; interviews with key experts using structured scenario based questions; a scenario planning workshop; testing the scenarios with front line doctors.

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The future operating environment for professional medical regulation full report