Our 3rd Annual Health Technology Assessment (HTA) conference in Sydney combined discussions of policy updates, assessment methods and issues of transferability, decision-making processes and optimised stakeholder engagement.
We were fortunate to have had George Papadopoulos, President, Emerald Corporate Group chair the conference. With more than 20 years in the pharmaceutical industry including clinical research, health economics, reimbursement, pricing and business development working in both operating company level, George provided a comprehensive local and global perspective for discussions. George joins us to share his thoughts on optimising HTA processes and highlight some of the key insights from the conference.
The issue of defining the eligibility criteria for HTA was raised a few times. What are your thoughts?
The work by Associate Professor Merlin and the development of Product Type classification, standards and IPT Marks for HTA through INAHTA is a fantastic first step. As this research and standardisation moves ahead, the definitions of eligibility criteria will become clearer and HTA agencies, globally, locally and regionally, will have a consistent framework to work with, which should lead to more consistent assessment and avoidance of duplication of effort in answering the same question. The discussion around whether a full HTA or a mini-HTA or a rapid review is required and the criteria regarding these was also informative for the audience.
The need for clinician and consumer engagement were other topics mentioned in relation to the focus on outcomes and value. How can HTA integrate these concerns for greater engagement?
There is already involvement of the clinician and/or consumer in a lot of the HTA undertaken and this will continue. It is certainly an important viewpoint to take into account, but by no means the only one. As we saw during a few of the presentations, there are many interested or relevant stakeholders in the outcome of an HTA and these viewpoints should be taken into account, and also the results of the HTA communicated back to all the stakeholders.
The conference featured an engaging and informative panel session on HTA’s role in disinvestment. What were some of the key points to emerge from that discussion?
It certainly was a great discussion which generated a lot of interest and participation from the audience as well. The concept of partial disinvestment was also highlighted, such that maybe a revision of the eligibility or use criteria is needed rather than full disinvestment. Not withstanding that, the key points to emerge were that a clear criteria or matrix of when and how to disinvest is needed, the need to be proactive rather reactive, the need to have a level of transparency, and agreement of what level of evidence will be required to assist in the decision making.
Given your experience, can the Australian healthcare sector learn from technology assessments frameworks in other sectors or countries?
Australia is a leader in HTA and has been actively engaged for close to three decades. However, the field is continuously evolving with new methodologies and frameworks, so the Australian healthcare sector does look across sectors and overseas. These frameworks, then have to be customised or adapted to suit the Australian healthcare landscape.
What do you see as some of the main developments in HTA in Australia over the next 12 months?
Increasing the transparency of the HTA process and decision making criteria across all stakeholders, incorporation of different levels of evidence beyond the classical RCT, introducing new technologies through innovative access schemes using HTA as the framework. The conference also highlighted the great HTA work being done at a regional and local level, where a lot of the decision making is needed to be done. Thus a greater co-ordination and sharing of information and best practices between the federal, national and local HTA agencies will also be an ongoing area of development and progress.