Health technology assessment (or HTA) is the process used in a growing number of countries to decide which medicines and treatments should be available for patients.​

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What is health technology assessment?

Health technology assessment (or HTA) is the process used in a growing number of countries to decide which medicines and treatments should be available for patients.

HTA systematically looks at many different factors involved in a particular health technology, such as the clinical impact, cost effectiveness, social and ethical impact it can have on the lives of patients, the rest of society and healthcare systems. This information is then used to help healthcare policy makers decide whether a health technology should be used, and if so, how it is best used and which patients will benefit most from it.

Despite the needs of patients increasing around the world, healthcare continues to be inaccessible and too expensive for many people. New technology and treatment is beginning to change this but must be evaluated properly. Health technology assessment allows patients and policy makers to understand more about the quality, cost, value and appropriate use of technology, and how this can improve the lives of patients. 

IAPO’s involvement with HTA

Health Technology Assessment International (HTAi) is a global group that brings together organizations working to assess and approve new medicines, devices and treatments. It has members from over 65 countries and embraces all stakeholders including researchers, agencies, policy makers, industry, academia, health service providers, and patients/consumers.

IAPO works closely with the HTAi Patient and Citizen Special Interest Group, a voluntary team of active and committed people from around the world who have worked for a number of years to develop and promote patient and citizen involvement in HTA processes. 


Policy Briefing 2017

Patient involvement and engagement in HTA is important, but so is to clearly understand the value that patients can add to the decision-making process by being at the centre of it. In particular, there are  three key arguments for patient involvement in HTA are identified:
  • Patients involvement increases the quality of decision-making. No-one is in a better position than patients to provide insights as to how it is to live with a condition, and the implications it generates on the quality of people’s lives.
  • Patients’ experiences can represent an invaluable source of data. In order to enable patients to contribute at their best to decision-making in HTA, it is paramount to design and employ appropriate research methods to elicit, collect, and adequately value patient preferences and views.
  • Patient have unique views, skills, and knowledge. It is important to keep in mind that regardless of their professional, cultural, and social backgrounds, patients develop a distinctive set of skills and knowledge by “simply” being patients.

Read the policy briefing here.

Related information

At the IAPO 2014 Global Patients Congress, the Values and Standards on Patient and Citizen Involvement in HTA were launched. IAPO translated these into Spanish and shared them with members at the Latin American Regional Meeting in August last year.

Since then, the Special Interest Group has been working on a Patients Charter that will outline what patients and patients’ groups should expect when interacting with HTA agencies, and continuing to highlight core values and standards for patient involvement in HTA.

See also 'Completing a patient group submission template: guidance for patients' organizations' on how patients' groups can work with HTA.