This essay aims to introduce horizon scanning as an approach fundamental to most foresight studies.
The essay combines a general review of the topic with an overview of a range of horizon‐scanning approaches that are in use in the UK health system.
Different approaches – shorter as well as longer‐term, searching as well as broad scanning – are appropriate in different circumstances. In times of systemic change it is necessary to combine approaches of all types.
Only a small sample of the huge range of horizon‐scanning exercises has been studied, and the essay has not gone far into the question of how horizon‐scanning relates to other elements of the foresight process.
The implication is that horizon‐scanning should be undertaken on a routine basis, and should be integrated into planning activities from the start.
Horizon‐scanning is a tool needed in activities such as planning for the workforce, and for health and safety issues.
The essay covers a wide range of activities with real‐life illustrations in addition to overall assessment.
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