HIQA publishes guidelines to promote the use of a solid evidence base to inform a more efficient use of the healthcare budget

Date of publication:

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has today published two updated guidelines on the conduct of health technology assessment (HTA) in Ireland.

The revised Guidelines for the Economic Evaluation of Health Technologies in Ireland and Guidelines for the Budget Impact Analysis of Health Technologies in Ireland will assist decision-makers in evaluating the cost-effectiveness and budget impact of health technologies. The guidelines aim to promote the use of a solid evidence base to guide investment decisions in the Irish healthcare system and to ensure that healthcare interventions used in Ireland are clinically effective for patients, are affordable, and are good value for money.

Dr Máirín Ryan, HIQA’s Deputy CEO and Director of Health Technology Assessment, said: “To ensure consistency in the HTAs undertaken by HIQA and others, HIQA has developed guidelines on the conduct of HTA in Ireland. These guidelines are intended to promote the production of assessments that are timely, reliable, consistent and relevant to the needs of decision-makers and key stakeholders in Ireland. As health and social care services are publicly funded in Ireland, these guidelines promote the best use of limited public money and resources in ensuring the needs of the people using services are met.”

“This ensures that the right healthcare is targeted to the right patient at the right time in the right place, delivering the best outcomes for the individual and the most efficient use of the healthcare budget.”

The guidelines apply to assessments of all healthcare technologies, including medicines, procedures, medical devices, broader public health interventions and service delivery models.

Dr Ryan continued: “These guidelines are there to assist policy-makers in reaching decisions on the future of our healthcare system, for example planning ahead to ensure sufficient capacity is available in our health service. Currently, we have a system characterised by rationing by delay, crudely manifested in the form of waiting lists. The guidelines can focus efforts to alleviate some of the current challenges facing the Irish healthcare system such as the outpatient waiting list crisis in acute hospitals where the numbers of patients waiting longer than 12 months increased from 84,000 at the end of 2016 to 138,000 at the end of 2017.

“The guidelines are in place to ensure that economic evaluations are carried out to a high standard. Accurate and robust advice can also support decision-making surrounding the introduction of disease prevention strategies such as vaccination and cancer screening which protect people’s health and tend to be less costly than the therapies used to treat these diseases. Examples of HTAs which HIQA has recently carried out include research into the cost-effectiveness of smoking cessation tools and cervical cancer screening while the HTA regarding the extension of the HPV vaccination to boys is due to be published later this year.

“Although these guidelines are aimed primarily at decision-makers within the health and social care system, they also apply to anyone who is involved in the conduct or use of HTA in Ireland. The results of a HTA may have implications for other key stakeholders in the Irish healthcare system, including the general public, patient groups, clinicians and the manufacturing industry, among others. As such, it is important to consider all stakeholder needs when a HTA is being conducted.”

These guidelines were informed with technical input from the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics, and developed in consultation with HIQA’s Scientific Advisory Group.

The documents are available from www.hiqa.ie.


For further information please contact:

Marty Whelan, Head of Communications and Stakeholder Engagement

01 814 7480 / 086 244 7623 mwhelan@hiqa.ie

Notes to the Editor:

  • HIQA is the statutory organisation in Ireland with a responsibility to carry out national health technology assessments (HTAs) and to develop guidelines for the conduct of HTAs across our healthcare system.
  • HIQA 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 (HSE).
  • HTA is evidence-based research, widely used internationally to assess the costs and benefits of healthcare treatments. The aim of HTA is to guarantee the best use is made of resources through rationing by design.
  • Economic evaluation addresses both the costs and health benefits associated with a health technology.
  • Budget impact analysis (BIA) predicts the potential additional financial impact of the use of a new technology in a healthcare system with finite resources.
  • Where both an economic evaluation and a budget impact analysis are conducted as part of a HTA, they are expected to be driven by the same core assumptions and evidence, and should be complementary and consistent with each other.