Selection of new health technologies for assessment aimed at informing decision making: A survey among horizon scanning systems.

Department of Health Economics, University of Southern Denmark, Odense C, Denmark.
International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care (Impact Factor: 1.55). 02/2006; 22(2):177-83. DOI: 10.1017/S0266462306050999
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Uncertainty is pervasive in decision making on new health technologies; therefore, some countries have put systems in place to support decision makers with timely information. An important, but as yet undocumented, determinant of the potential value for decision making of these so-called horizon scanning systems (HSSs) is how the most significant health technologies are selected.
All thirteen member organizations of EuroScan, a collaborative network for HSSs, were surveyed and interviewed on how they prioritize technologies for assessment.
The majority of HSSs directly serves a customer. Some customers actively request early assessments of new health technologies, thereby diminishing the need for priority setting for the HSSs. All systems express a concern to miss an important technology and/or to select an unimportant technology. Almost all HSSs use explicit selection criteria, but these criteria hardly ever are operationalized. The number of criteria used varies, but costs and health benefit of the technology are always taken into account. The process of reaching a final decision is implicit, undocumented in all but one system, and is based on agreement by consensus.
The process of making the final decision on which technologies to assess can be improved by applying existing criteria more consistently and transparently. Current practice does not safeguard against missing an important technology. This finding is probably most important to act upon for systems with customers that do not actively request assessment of specific technologies.