Health technology assessment, also known as health technology policy analysis, is a comprehensive study of health care technologies and their characteristics to identify how they affect the health system, their cost-effectiveness, their reliability, their efficiency, their suitability for particular needs, their effectiveness, their impact on individuals’ and society’s health and their safety. It is also an evidence-based analysis of the benefits and risks of such technologies.
Health technology assessment is an integrated process that incorporates both theoretical and empirical research, policy analysis and evaluation. Health technologies are those that are used in the medical practice or field. The term ‘health technology’ can be broadly defined as any therapeutic item that is capable of curing, preventing, reducing or eliminating one or more types of illness. The term ‘health care technology’ can be further narrowed down to cover devices, equipment, supplies, processes, procedures, treatments, diagnostics and therapeutic services that are used in the health care system.
Many health care systems have developed a strong reputation for quality patient care and a high level of patient satisfaction, in spite of being the targets of many of the challenges posed by the current health care system. The primary goal of health care technology assessment is to ensure that the health care system and the services provided meet the health care system’s strategic goals.
Health care technology assessments aim to improve the quality of care provided to patients. It is undertaken to examine the use of technological devices in patient care, the performance of such devices in various clinical conditions, the extent to which the system’s implementation was influenced by research and evidence, the performance of such devices against agreed quality benchmarks, whether such devices and their implementation have increased patient satisfaction, and if the system is meeting the system’s mission and vision. In addition, a systematic review is conducted to assess the effectiveness of the system in reducing the costs and improving quality of service.
The results of health technology assessment are then used in planning the future health care system. It is also a tool in formulating the health care system’s strategies for the adoption of new technology, its implementation, and its maintenance, with a view to improving patient care and reducing costs. A systematic health technology assessment is a collaborative effort, where all stakeholders – patients, stakeholders, administrators, professionals and researchers – are involved in the process.
The scope of the assessment includes a range of activities that are used to gather and evaluate data. It includes clinical research, which involves the use of tools and techniques to provide information about the functioning of different healthcare institutions, systems and the quality of care provided, in particular how the technology affects the quality of care provided. It also involves a variety of interviews, focus groups, surveys and interviews in order to gather evidence, and information on the impact of the use of the technology on the quality of care provided.
There are several activities that are part of the assessment. These include data collection activities, which involve obtaining information from patients, stakeholders and administrators, who provide qualitative and quantitative information about their experiences with health technology. Another part of the assessment includes the development of data models to provide data to support the development of conceptual plans and strategies.
After the data has been collected and assessed, a team of people from the stakeholders and administrators of the health care system to develop and conduct the assessment. The team makes a report on the results of the assessment and prepares a strategy, which outlines the expected results. They also conduct a literature review to update the information on the status of the evaluation and review of the literature on the subject.