Leverage Value of Expert Networks to Build Consensus and Drive Change

The Delphi method is a systematic and iterative approach to communication that seeks to aggregate opinions from a diverse set of experts to generate clarity and support (evidence) based on this collective wisdom.  It can be used to help forecast future impact, consolidate a position, or to define policy and many sectors are using it today including healthcare.  Many treatment or management guidelines have been developed using a version of the Delphi method.

One version of the Delphi method which has been refined and routinely employed by us is amplified Delphi consensus.  The Delphi method relies on collecting opinions from a panel of experts and amplified consensus seeks to maximise the size of this panel of responders within the constraints of the expertise required on the topic in hand. Typically this means 100+ responders in localised programs and in some regional / pan-region projects this can be as large as 500+.

A feature of communication or evidence generated using Triducive’s amplified consensus method is peer-advocacy. Because outputs from Delphi programs are generated by stakeholders who represent an important constituent of the health system itself, they help create social proof for the direction recommended as a result of the work.  An important coalition of experts now have a clearer and more confident voice to call for change across peer groups and across other disciplines they work with.  The question for other stakeholders moves from ‘why not do this?’ to ‘’why wouldn’t you?’.

The Amplified Delphi consensus can be completed virtually — which helps to overcome the barriers of time, cost, and geography. Typically possible to deliver within 5-6 months, there are 5 key steps to delivering a successful Delphi study. They outline the broad process and how Triducive can help effective implementation in practice.

Steps to apply the amplified Delphi method in Healthcare

Delphi process - Triducive

Clearly define the problem/goal

It’s important to ensure the rationale for the work is strongly grounded and that the team supporting it are well aligned on the objectives and approach. This helps create the basis for the whole approach to run smoothly and for the effort behind closing evidence/knowledge gaps to be successful.

Engage experts, align on the goal & develop statements

The support of thought leaders working across the chosen area will ensure relevance and credibility of the work. Through structured facilitation, their alignment with the goal can be achieved and statements developed that help illustrate the current gaps and to offer expert opinion that aims to close them.

Test & amplify with peers of the experts (responders)

Reaching out to the experts’ professional networks the statements can be tested to build further understanding, to validate initial opinion (gain consensus) and, with greater numbers to amplify the impact of this further

Support experts to analyse responses and provide recommendations

At this stage the expert steering group are able to confidently develop recommendations that help close the evidence gap and to plan communication activities that will engage agreed target audiences.

Communicate and support target audiences to drive change

This approach ends with a draft manuscript, authored by thought leaders and which can be published and cited in further communications and activities. Triducive offer support with designing and developing wider, educational activities.

The following characteristics and the facilitation by an expert help participants to focus on the issues at hand and differentiate it from other scientific methodologies:

  • Structured flow of information
  • Equality of input/opinion
  • Regular feedback
  • Anonymity of participants

“This type of evidence remains a necessary component in the armamentarium used to determine the answer to a clinical question” Ref 1: Arthroscopy: The Journal of Arthroscopic and Related Surgery, Vol 34, No 2 (February), 2018: pp 349-351 349

Find Out More About the Delphi Consensus

The Delphi approach was invented in the USA in the 1950’s by a think tank called the RAND corporation. The approach was designed to help develop consensus in the areas of policy and forecasting. It was first used by the US military to help predict the impact of technology during the cold war.

The Delphi method is used widely and extensively throughout healthcare to help develop policy and support decision-making where evidence is incomplete.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare community has shown an increased interest in the Delphi approach. This can be attributed to its ability to provide highly credible recommendations in a relatively short period of time, particularly in an area with limited understanding and evidence.

The focus of evidence-based medicine is on randomised controlled trials, which are ranked highest in the hierarchy of evidence (level 1) while expert consensus ranks at level 4.

However, randomised controlled trials have weaknesses as well as strengths, and no research method is flawless. Moreover, stringent application of scientific research techniques, such as modified Delphi consensus, allows obtaining expert opinion in a high quality and scientific manner. Outcomes of Delphi often complement, stimulate, or help complete the evidence base.

Amplified Consensus

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Structured consensus delivered to date
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Data responses from experts
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Publications in peer-reviewed journals

Discover How Triducive Can Help

Find out how Triducive’s amplified Delphi process can help your organisation generate data and advocacy to see better decisions actioned by getting in touch with a member of the Triducive team or schedule a meeting directly with the team today.

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