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Looking at the fringes of MedTech innovation: a mapping review of horizon scanning and foresight methods

Lookup NU author(s): Sonia Garcia Gonzalez-MoralORCiD, Fiona Beyer, Dr Anne Oyewole, Catherine Richmond, Dr Luke Wainwright, Professor Dawn CraigORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2023. Re-use permitted under CC BY. Published by BMJ. OBJECTIVES: Horizon scanning (HS) is a method used to examine signs of change and may be used in foresight practice. HS methods used for the identification of innovative medicinal products cannot be applied in medical technologies (MedTech) due to differences in development and regulatory processes. The aim of this study is to identify HS and other methodologies used for MedTech foresight in support to healthcare decision-making. METHOD: A mapping review was performed. We searched bibliographical databases including MEDLINE, Embase, Scopus, Web of Science, IEEE Xplore and Compendex Engineering Village and grey literature sources such as Google, CORE database and the International HTA database. Our searches identified 8888 records. After de-duplication, and manual and automated title, abstracts and full-text screening, 49 papers met the inclusion criteria and were data extracted. RESULTS: Twenty-five single different methods were identified, often used in combination; of these, only three were novel (appearing only once in the literature). Text mining or artificial intelligence solutions appear as early as 2012, often practised in patent and social media sources. The time horizon used in scanning was not often justified. Some studies regarded experts both as a source and as a method. Literature searching remains one of the most used methods for innovation identification. HS methods were vaguely reported, but often involved consulting with experts and stakeholders. CONCLUSION: Heterogeneous methodologies, sources and time horizons are used for HS and foresight of MedTech innovation with little or no justification provided for their use. This review revealed an array of known methods being used in combination to overcome the limitations posed by single methods. The review also revealed inconsistency in methods reporting, with a lack of any consensus regarding best practice. Greater transparency in methods reporting and consistency in methods use would contribute to increased output quality to support informed timely decision-making.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Garcia Gonzalez-Moral S, Beyer FR, Oyewole AO, Richmond C, Wainwright L, Craig D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: BMJ Open

Year: 2023

Volume: 13

Issue: 9

Online publication date: 14/09/2023

Acceptance date: 21/08/2023

Date deposited: 28/09/2023

ISSN (print): 2044-6055

ISSN (electronic): 2044-6055

Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2023-073730

PubMed id: 37709340


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Funder referenceFunder name
HSRIC-2016-10009National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)