Health Technology Assessment
The Health Technology Assessment (HTA) program at the Institute of Health Economics (IHE) is the provincial focus for HTA activities in Alberta. The program examines a range of topics for health technology assessment; explores a variety of efforts to increase collaboration and strengthen the assessment processes, as well as a number of approaches for effective dissemination and impact of its findings. It is funded by Alberta's Ministry of Health and Wellness through a five year agreement.
IHE hosts the Secretariat for Health Technology Assessment International (HTAi) and the former Editorial Office of the International Journal of Health Technology Assessment. The Institute is a member of the International Network of Agencies for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) and the World Health Organization's Health Evidence Network (WHO HEN).
The Institute's HTA program
- Supports health policy and practice with the best available evidence
- Works to increase capacity for HTA in Alberta
- Builds collaborations with Alberta's academic, research, and policy communities, and with the national and international community of researchers in HTA
- The staff at IHE consists of experts in health economics, epidemiology, biostatistics, health policy, biomedical engineering, literature searching techniques, and general medicine.
HTA projects that IHE undertakes use a team approach, inviting clinicians and researchers at educational institutes and in practice settings, and other experts provincially, nationally, and internationally, to collaborate with IHE staff.
The selection of topics for health technology assessment come as a result of internal and external discussions and priority setting, but mainly through the Alberta Health Technologies Decision Process which is the provincial mechanism for the introduction, diffusion, and use of publicly funded health care technologies.
IHE is open and accessible to the entire health care community in Alberta and welcomes requests from other provinces and countries for collaboration on topics of mutual interest.
IHE produces different types of HTAs: from comprehensive assessments of the many technologies, programs, and interventions used to prevent, diagnose, treat and manage major diseases (which may take several years to complete). to rapid assessments, which usually take up to three months to complete.
Dissemination and Impact
IHE makes use of a number of means to distribute, disseminate, and increase the impact of evidence. These include traditional approaches such as publications in scientific journals, conference presentations, web-based communications, media releases, workshops, seminars, and other educational activities. Some special dissemination activities include:
- A new health book series published by Wiley that included three volumes in 2008
- An Ambassador Program for knowledge transfer in Alberta. The program's intial focus is on chronic pain; however, the intention is to broaden it to many more topics.
- A Consensus Development Conference Program to disseminate findings from research. This type of conference has a unique format like that of a court hearing, which generates a statement that can quickly be put into policy and practice.
The HTA program for the future aims at:
- Ensuring greater provincial coordination of health technology assessment
- Involving many more stakeholders in both its projects and its dissemination activities
- Conducting evaluations in coverage with evidence development
- Engaging in more comprehensive assessments (Comparative Effectiveness)