Sociological developments and technology have affected most aspects of life including healthcare. Medicine and in particular the role of doctors have experienced recent significant changes, at an accelerating pace akin to a bewilderingly fast paradigm shift.

These changes are having a profound effect on the practice and science of medicine with palpable but poorly understood outcomes for doctors and their relationship with patients and the public. The traditional role of the doctor is under strain, almost certainly needing redefining. There are clear signs of stress amongst healthcare professionals and in healthcare systems worldwide in parallel with stresses in the organisation and funding of healthcare.

There is an urgent need to explore underlying factors, to judge innovations and to prepare for the future. Whilst work has been done to emphasise current problems there has been little emphasis on understanding our evolving environment and how to cope with the future, ranging from training to health planning.

To date there has been no formally convened group in the UK to explore this area and to better appraise stakeholders, including the public. The Changing Face of Medicine project starts this process. It builds on the BMA Presidential Project of Prof. Pali Hungin(BMA Report Presidential Project 2017 https://www.bma.org.uk/collective-voice/policy-and-research/education-training-and-workforce/changing-face-of-medicine) by bringing many partners together to understand the challenges and propose ways to best meet these challenges for governments, advisors, healthcare professionals and patients.

The Changing Face of Medicine project aims to focus resources on tackling the following five themes:

  1. Public-patient-doctor engagement
  2. Technology, informatics, AI
  3. Clinicians’ wellbeing
  4. Rethinking medical education
  5. Leadership for future imagining

The core team is being led by Prof. Pali Hungin. Overall project direction is set by a faculty group made up of key stakeholders and partners. This is being lead by Prof. Michael Farthing. In parallel a separate Governance Committee ensures the project is well managed and complies with all relevant regulation. The project has been hosted by the Academy Of Medical Royal Colleges and supported with funding from Wesleyan, the BMA and others. The project does not have a political basis.

The chief project outcomes proposed are

a) Establishing a cohesive group, a “Commission” of stakeholders already contributing to this area, enabling sharing with a common purpose with a capacity to consider the evolving circumstances and to influence future thinking

b) Creating and informing policy for future medical and health planning by stakeholders

c) Creating a forum enabling medical and other health professionals to enter into dialogue with patients and the public

d) Providing a forum for younger doctors to envisage future healthcare trends and career pathways

e) Providing informed and up to date views on the identified themes and their likely impact

f) The identification and nurturing of future thought leaders within the health professions able to influence and shape health policy, practice and organisation

g) Partnership with leading edge organisations such as Google DeepMind in areas of mutual interest: in defining areas for development, leadership and in contextualising advances within societal ethics and norms.

These ambitions will evolve over the coming weeks and months following review by the faculty group and workstream leaders. These will be done in cohesion with a communications and dissemination strategy.

Plans are in place, assuming the UK based initiative is successful, to launch an international organisational structure along similar lines, contextualizing factors from different settings. There is a clearly identified need for this as evidenced from the work to date and the high level of participants from the international setting.