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Improved Methods and Actionable Tools for Enhancing Health Technology Assessment

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Cross-border cooperation is key to more efficient health technology assessments

New tools and methods for conducting health technology assessments aim to improve decision-making and promote cooperation among Member States. The result could be better patient care.

Health

Although social and health policies remain the responsibility of Member States, there are benefits to cross-country collaboration – particularly to the procurement of health-related technology. Improving the effectiveness and efficiency of health technology procurement through data and information sharing is therefore now a major policy goal for many Member States. Helping to facilitate this collaboration in data is the EU-funded IMPACT HTA project. “Data on the costs and outcomes of new health technologies are now available from a wide range of sources,” says Panos Kanavos, a professor of International Health Policy at the London School of Economics and IMPACT HTA project coordinator. “The goal of this project is to create an environment where all Member States can readily access this information when conducting health technology assessments.” Health technology assessments, or HTAs, are a systematic method used to evaluate a health technology’s properties, effects and consequences. Member States use HTAs to make informed decisions about whether to procure and/or certify a new health technology.

Innovative methods and tools

The project has developed numerous innovative methodologies and tools that aid decision-making, improve resource allocation, and facilitate collaboration between Member States, HTA agencies, healthcare professionals and other stakeholders. Take for example an economic evaluation tool that combines and uses randomised clinical trial and observational data. “This tool allows HTA staff to conduct quick cost-effectiveness evaluations using local, freely available data,” remarks Kanavos. “The data can be easily modified for local needs, which enables models to be shared across agencies and appraisals in a given therapeutic area.” The project also created a costing methodology and database of unit costs in health and social care. “This database, the first of its kind in Europe, can be used to feed health-economic evaluations by transferring economic analyses and models across countries,” adds Kanavos. “It saves researchers’ time in searching for costs, allows for cross-country comparisons, and provides a deep understanding of cross-border cost variations.” Researchers have even developed tools specifically for hospitals. “Hospital performance is multifaceted, with many contextual factors affecting the adoption of health technologies,” he notes. With this in mind, the project developed two toolkits for the hospital setting. The first assesses the hospital’s overall performance, while the second provides a method for assessing how contextual factors could impact a technology’s implementation. “These tools are backed by a decision model that identifies technologies of equal efficacy and safety, but that are subject to clinical variations,” says Kanavos. “By assessing different possible interventions, these tools help improve the performance and quality of patient care.”

Improving patient care

Although work continues, IMPACT HTA’s tools and methods are already being used by HTA bodies, guideline developers, patient organisations, clinical experts, academic groups and the healthcare industry. “Our validated approaches for collecting, analysing and integrating data not only helps improve resource allocation across Member States, more importantly, it ensures that patients receive the best possible care,” concludes Kanavos.

Keywords

IMPACT HTA, health technology assessments, Member States, patient care, health policy, health technology, procurement, data, healthcare, hospitals

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