HIQA publishes guide to health technology assessment
The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has today published A Guide to Health Technology Assessment at HIQA. This guide provides an overview of what health technology assessment (HTA) is and how it is conducted by HIQA. By means of HTA, HIQA evaluates the clinical- and cost-effectiveness of health technologies, providing advice to the Minister for Health and the Health Service Executive. The guide is aimed at members of the general public who are interested to learn more about HTA and how it is used in the Irish healthcare system as well as members of Expert Advisory Groups convened to advise HIQA on specific HTAs.
The ‘technology’ assessed by a HTA can include any intervention that may be used to promote health; to prevent, diagnose or treat a disease; or in rehabilitation or long-term care. The HTA findings may also have implications for other stakeholders in the Irish healthcare system, including the general public, patient groups, clinicians, other healthcare providers, academic groups and the manufacturing industry.
HIQA’s Director of Health Technology Assessment and Deputy Chief Executive Dr Máirín Ryan said “The health budget in Ireland is limited. To invest in a new technology means that it may be necessary to stop or reduce funding for another technology or service. To make that choice, it is important that accurate and reliable evidence is presented to support decision making. The goal of HTA is to provide that independent evidence.”
“HTAs can be used to ensure that Ireland’s healthcare system provides the best possible outcomes for patients given the finite health budget. As HTAs can have a major impact on how money is spent in our healthcare system, it is important that stakeholders understand how HTA works and how they can participate in the process.”
Dr Ryan continued “While it is sometimes said that cost-effectiveness analysis puts a price on a human life, this is incorrect. Instead, HTA helps the decision-maker to determine if they are willing to invest money in a technology on the basis of good use of available resources.”
Marty Whelan, Head of Communications and Stakeholder Engagement, HIQA, 01 814 7480 / 086 2447 623, email@example.com
Notes to the Editor:
The Health Information and Quality Authority has a statutory remit to evaluate the clinical and cost-effectiveness of health technologies, providing advice to the Minister for Health and to the Health Service Executive. The findings of an evaluation, called a health technology assessment (HTA), may also have implications for other stakeholders in the Irish healthcare system, including patient groups, the general public, clinicians, other healthcare providers, academic groups and the manufacturing industry.
An example of a current HTA that HIQA is undertaking is the evaluation of a potential change to the cervical cancer screening programme. The assessment is examining the potential impact of changing from liquid-based cytology to human papillomavirus testing as the primary screening test for the prevention of cervical cancer in Ireland. The assessment is investigating the implications in terms of changes to the number of cancers detected, the organisational changes necessary to accommodate a new screening strategy, and the possible ethical and social implications for women participating in screening.
HIQA previously evaluated the impact of changing from a universal to a selective national neonatal BCG vaccination programme, whereby BCG vaccination would only be routinely provided to children considered at higher risk of contracting tuberculosis. Due to the low incidence of tuberculosis in Ireland, such a change is possible and consistent with practice across Europe. In the assessment, issues relating to organisational changes and social implications were covered to provide the policy maker with all the relevant evidence necessary for decision making.
HIQA also examined the implications of establishing a national public access defibrillation programme in Ireland to increase survival from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. The HTA was instigated to support the Public Health (Availability of Defibrillators) Bill 2013, which proposed a substantial increase in the availability of static defibrillators compared to the present situation. The assessment provided a robust and transparent evidence base to inform the decision of whether or not to proceed with the proposed legislation.
The new HTA guide was developed in consultation with HIQA’s Scientific Advisory Group, which provides broad representation from key stakeholders in healthcare in Ireland.