EUnetHTA aimed to build a strong network of HTA institutions and develop a range of practical tools that would increase the impact of HTA at all levels of healthcare. It also sought to reduce duplication of effort and to increase HTA input to decision making in European countries and the EU.
1. To increase the impact of HTA at all levels of healthcare
The EUnetHTA network is a structure for HTA collaboration in Europe, allowing national and regional HTA agencies, research institutions and health ministries to exchange information. This is important for facilitating harmonisation of policy and enhancing the impact of HTA on patient outcomes.
The network’s objectives are to increase the use, quality and efficiency of European HTA. The aim is to establish an effective and sustainable HTA collaboration that brings added value at the regional, national and European level.
It also aims to address methodological challenges in the implementation of Joint Action 3 (JA3), which requires rapid relative efficacy assessments (REAs). A pilot on REAs is being run jointly with the EMA in 2021.
REAs are comprehensive assessments of the evidence that support the clinical efficacy, safety and cost effectiveness of a new medical product or intervention. They consist of nine domains, including health problem and current use; description and technical characteristics; safety; effectiveness; costs and economic evaluation; ethical, organisational, patient/social and legal aspects.
2. To reduce duplication of effort
EUnetHTA aims to reduce duplication of effort by connecting public national/regional HTA agencies, research institutions and health ministries, to enable effective exchange of information and support to policy decisions in Europe. In addition, EUnetHTA aims to increase the impact of HTA at all levels and strengthen the link between HTA and healthcare policy making in European countries and the EU.
To support the strategic objectives of the project, EUnetHTA aims to make use of contemporary technical opportunities, including Web-based tools developed by other HTA organizations and modern information and communication technology. These innovations have the potential to change the way HTA is carried out.
The production process of EUnetHTA REAs was changed following JA2 experiences and a survey conducted in JA3 (see Table 1). These changes focused on procedural aspects such as transparency, usability, and inclusiveness.
In order to reduce duplication of effort, the POP database was used as a tool to inform HTA agencies when other Partners had started working on the same topic. This information allowed partners to defer their own assessment until the other Partner has finished its project and to save on resources.
3. To increase HTA input to decision making
Health technology assessment (HTA) is defined as a multidisciplinary process that summarizes information about medical, social, economic and ethical issues related to the use of a health technology in a systematic and transparent manner.
The practice of HTA varies considerably across national settings and is highly context-dependent. It informs policy and decision making in a range of political, economic and institutional contexts.
EUnetHTA aims to increase HTA input to decision making in European countries and the EU. This involves supporting countries with limited experience in HTA; strengthening the link between HTA and healthcare policy making at all levels of healthcare; and ensuring that national health systems are well-equipped to implement the findings of HTA reports, both through direct policy impact and by facilitating knowledge translation and quality improvement.
In addition to this, EUnetHTA aims to improve the usability of REAs through procedural changes. These changes are based on qualitative and quantitative feedback from JA2 experiences and recommendations, JA3 feedback workshops and evaluation and implementation surveys.
4. To support countries with limited experience in HTA
Healthcare decision-makers throughout Europe rely on HTA to ensure they are making evidence-based decisions. This involves a range of analyses including relative efficacy and relative effectiveness assessment, which assess the medical or therapeutic added value of medicines compared with alternatives in a controlled environment (relative efficacy) or in real-life settings (relative effectiveness).
A common challenge in CEE countries is that there are limited resources for HTA. In addition, there is a lack of top-level policymakers who have experience in HTA.
Therefore, HTA doers have to be creative and specialized in order to produce effective assessments. This means that training of HTA professionals and staff is vital.
EUnetHTA aims to support countries with limited experience in HTA by developing tools and information resources for HTA implementation. It also aims to create social coherence and establish a communication platform for HTA in Europe. To achieve these objectives, EUnetHTA will focus on the following areas: