PATH Workshop Summary
I recently had the pleasure of attending a two-day workshop entitled Introduction to Health Technology Assessment (HTA)1
, put on by the Programs for Assessment of Technology in Health (PATH) Research Institute2
. I was pleasantly surprised by the breadth of knowledge of the speakers at this workshop, and by the scope of information covered in a relatively short amount of time (this was the first time that the workshop was cut down from its usual 3-4 day length to 2 days). In this week’s blog I will share some things I learned about HTA, a highly-active and growing field with a substantial impact on healthcare.
HTA is a field that engages many different disciplines (medicine, economics, sociology, and ethics) to understand the value and use of health technology
in healthcare. A health technology is any method or intervention to: i) promote health, ii) prevent, diagnose, or treat disease, or iii) improve rehabilitation and long-term care1
. While the term ‘health technology’ can include procedures and organizational systems, it most commonly refers to pharmaceuticals and medical devices
. The goal of HTA is to summarize the evidence on the costs and benefits of a health technology for use by policy-makers and other decision-makers. Examples of people who would want an HTA include government representatives, managers of hospitals or other healthcare facilities, doctors/practitioners, and researchers. Questions that an HTA might address include: Should the government cover the cost of a new cancer screening test and, if so, in whom (i.e., in anyone over the age of 50 or only those showing symptoms)? Should our hospital buy a newer version of an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machine?
The concept of HTA and the formalization of the HTA process are relatively new, originating in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s, but international demand has been growing steadily since its inception. Possible reasons for the rising demand for HTA’s include increased demand/need for evidence to support decision-making, increased healthcare spending, the growing rate of diffusion of new technologies1
, and increased costs of wrong decisions. For more information about Canadian HTA’s, check out the website of the largest body currently conducting HTA’s in Canada: The Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH), a not-for-profit, independent national body funded by multiple levels of the government3
. HTA’s make significant contributions to healthcare by helping to efficiently allocate scarce resources, select cost-effective interventions and services, and remove obsolete interventions1
. We at MEMOTEXT are very happy to have learned about health technology assessment and are eager to incorporate its rigorous methodologies into our evidence-based mHealth interventions.
- Introduction to Health Technology Assessment Workshop (2-day), November 21-22, 2012. http://www.path-hta.ca/Workshops/Health-Technology-Assessment-Workshop.aspx
- Programs for Assessment of Technology in Health (PATH) Research Institute http://www.path-hta.ca/Home.aspx, accessed December 4, 2012
- Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health http://www.cadth.ca/en/cadth, accessed December 7, 2012