Health Technology Assessment (HTA) is defined as a multidisciplinary process that summarises information about the medical, social, economic and ethical issues related to use of a health technology (medicines, devices, vaccines, rehabilitation etc) in a systematic, transparent, unbiased, robust manner. Its aim is to inform health policy at local or national level including decisions about reimbursement and access.
Principles of good practice for HTA were published in 2008 and these included “stakeholder involvement”, recognising that policy initiatives should include a democratic right for involvement. Patients and their representatives are clearly key stakeholders, but questions arise about how they should be involved in the complex processes of HTA without compromising scientific integrity.
The Health Technology Assessment International (HTAi) Interest Group for Patient/Citizen Involvement in HTA believes that patients and their representatives can provide valuable input to HTA by sharing their experiences of living with a condition, use of current health technologies and experiences and expectations of new health technologies. This unique knowledge can add value to every stage of the HTA process, but in many countries there is no involvement of patients and no transparency about how patients can be involved in HTA. So, the HTAi Interest Group works with all stakeholders to develop tools and initiatives to support HTA bodies to involve patients and patient organisations in a meaningful manner and to support patient organisations to get involved in HTA.
Any patient group's approach to HTA must be specific to their own setting, but can draw on the international recommendations made by HTAi – such as their Values and Quality Standards for Patient Involvement in HTA. Furthermore, patient groups can help support capacity building through better collaboration about their experiences in HTA and development of generic information about their condition and its unmet needs that can be shared internationally. Finally they have a crucial role in evaluating HTA processes to ensure that they are fair and transparent.
Disclosure of Interest K. Facey Consultant for: A range of health technology companies, HTA bodies and patient organsiations