Not a crystal ball: Mapping opportunities and threats for the future demand of red blood cells in the Netherlands using a scenario approach


As Western blood transfusion practices are changing, there is interest and need in anticipating the future demand of blood products and how a blood establishment can actively prepare for various long-term developments. This article provides an overview of how a scenario approach was used to prioritize key categories of drivers for the future demand of red blood cells and the organizational implications thereof for Sanquin, the Dutch national blood establishment.

Study Design and Methods

Based on previously identified drivers from interviews and a literature review (Step 1), we conducted scenario sessions and a survey to rank a list of drivers (“themes”) with its related opportunities and threats (Step 2), to identify mitigating measures per theme through focus groups (Step 3).


In Step 2, 10 themes were found that were classified in terms of importance and uncertainty. These were plotted on a two-dimensional graph with an ellipse to indicate the interquartile ranges per theme. Experts rated the top three most important themes to be the blood supply organization, precision medicine, and red blood cell replacements. In Step 3, focus groups identified specific mitigating measures per theme. These measures had parallel ideas, such as the need for an innovative mentality, internal and external communication and collaboration, and building Sanquin's reputation and trust with the public.


Having identified the most important themes with suggestions for mitigating measures, Sanquin can take steps to become adaptive and proactive. Other blood establishments may also use a scenario approach to create contextualized long-term strategies.