How can the impact of health technology assessments be enhanced?
- Health technology assessment (HTA) is an important tool for informing effective regulation of the diffusion and use of health technologies.
- The key policy issues surrounding the use of HTA fall into three areas: (a) the bodies, decision-makers and other stakeholders involved, (b) the methods and processes employed; and (c) how the findings of HTAs are implemented.
- The impact of HTA can be enhanced if: key stakeholders (e.g. patients, providers and industry) are adequately involved; decision-makers give a prior commitment to use assessment reports (and assessments meet their needs); the necessary resources are available for implementing decisions; there is transparency in the assessment and decision-making processes; and collaboration, knowledge and skills are transferred across jurisdictions.
- Increased stakeholder involvement throughout the HTA process can help capture and improve the real-world value and applicability of HTAs. Nevertheless, stakeholder involvement needs to be transparent and well-managed in order to ensure that the objectivity of assessments is not influenced.
- HTAs must be timely in relation to the decisions they seek to inform. Simpler studies, early-warning systems and conditional approvals are increasingly being used to manage the uncertainty surrounding new and emerging technologies while facilitating the timeliness and relevancy of HTA.
- International collaboration among HTA bodies can facilitate the development of methods and more efficient assessment processes, and facilitate knowledge transfer and capacity-building in less established HTA systems and programmes.
- To facilitate the use and implementation of HTA reports in decision-making, incentives within a given health care system must be appropriately aligned with the decisions that are based on (or informed by) HTA.
- Problems with applying technical information and national recommendations to local decision-making can be reduced if there are formal links between the producers and users of HTA.
- Learning through collaboration and exchange of experience can help to overcome those institutional and capacity barriers that often hinder implementation.