HTA stands for Health Technology Assessment. The main aim of HTA is to inform decision making by health care policy makers. It is a systematic process that considers health technologies (such as medicines or medical devices) and can involve a review of:
- clinical effectiveness (how well a medicine will work in the local health system compared to the best standard of care)
- cost effectiveness (the long term costs and benefits of a medicine compared to the best standard of care)
- social and ethical impacts on the health care system and the lives of individual patients.
The process advises whether or not a health technology should be used, and if so, how it is best used and which patients are most likely to benefit from it. Assessments vary, but most look at the health benefits and risks of using the technology. They can also look at costs and any other wider impacts that the technology may have on a population or on a society.
HTA assesses international evidence but applies it to the local health care setting to understand the added value of a new medicine in that health care system. HTAs are performed at national, regional or hospital level.