Forget Predictive Modeling, Try Leadership Forecasting

Philip Betbeze, January 3, 2014

Instead of attempting to predict outcomes based on aging data, healthcare leaders should rely more heavily on forecasting, which is a less precise but more accurate gauge of how a strategy is likely to pay off, says a medical economist.

Health futurist and medical economist Jeffrey Bauer, PhD., was once a weather man. For the first six years of his career, he focused much of his research on when and where hail was likely to occur as part of a research grant from the National Science Foundation. Eventually, he left that interest in weather behind.

But even as he moved his career away from weather and into the "dismal science," of economics, he retained his meteorological roots by keeping his focus on forecasting, rather than predicting, the future. Now a well-known author and speaker for healthcare executive audiences, Bauer has a forecast for healthcare over the next decade, as radical transformation of the business model takes hold.

But a forecast is only one set of probabilities that can be assumed with varying degrees of accuracy based on current and future conditions. It's what you do with the forecast to adapt to future patterns that's the key to whether your organization survives the purge that Bauer sees coming.

Forecasting vs. Predicting
His new book, Upgrading Leadership's Crystal Ball, focuses on ways healthcare top leadership can effectively work to reduce the probability that their scenarios will fail by employing forecasting techniques, rather than predicting techniques.

First, it's helpful to see the difference between forecasting and predicting, says Bauer.

Philip Betbeze

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders Media.


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