Keena McKillen

Freelance Delphi Facilitator

Author of: What is a Delphi process?


Keena started her academic career by completing a PhD in electrophysiology and spending several years as a post-doctoral researcher in laboratories in the UK and USA. In 1997, Keena moved from ‘doing’ science to ‘communicating’ science by moving to work in the medical education agency environment.

Since then, Keena has held a number of senior leadership positions in international medical communication agencies, such as Director of Education, Client Services Director and Publisher.

Since 2011, Keena has been working as an independent consultant, supporting the development and delivery of educational programmes in healthcare. Her expertise in science, training and facilitation propelled her into becoming a Delphi practitioner. She has led and consulted on a range of Delphi processes in a wide range of healthcare areas, from supporting the development of a consensus guideline for best practice management of psoriasis in the Nordic region to establishing treatment comparators to inform health economic models used in health technology appraisals.

Summary: What is a Delphi process?

  • A Delphi process is a group facilitation technique, which is an iterative multistage process, designed to transform the opinion of individual experts into group consensus in situations where information is scant and a level of uncertainty exists, requiring expert judgement.
  • The classic Delphi process comprises multiple rounds, with questionnaires for each round being developed based on the input of the preceding round. This allows experts to review and adjust their opinion in light of the group response and, therefore, move towards a convergent viewpoint.
  • In a classic Delphi process, experts remain anonymous to each other, with question rounds being managed and analysed by a facilitator.
  • Classic Delphi processes have advantages over other group consensus techniques because experts are not brought together at the same time and in the same place, overcoming the practical difficulties of geography and diary clashes, while also removing some of the dynamics issues common in group meetings.
  • Various modifications of the Delphi process exist; one common modification replaces the third round of questions with a face-to-face expert meeting.
  • Factors important for the success of a Delphi process are the clear definition of the project objectives and measures of consensus, the selection of appropriate experts, a clear briefing and good starting material, and well-designed questionnaires that build on each other through effective analysis.
  • Delphi processes have been applied to a range of healthcare questions, as diverse as establishing best practice commissioning and estimating disease prevalence.