How can the impact of health technology assessments be enhanced?

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Key messages of this publication

Policy issues

  • 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:
    • the bodies, decision-makers and other stakeholders involved,
    • the methods and processes employed; and
    • 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.

Policy measures

  • 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.

Implementation considerations

  • 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.