Prioritizing investments in health technology assessment - Can we assess potential value for money?

L Davies, M Drummond, P Papanikolaou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The objective was to develop an economic prioritization model to assist those involved in the selection and prioritization of health technology assessment topics and commissioning of HTA projects.

Methods: The model used decision analytic techniques to estimate the expected costs and benefits of the health care interventions that were the focus of the HTA question(s) considered by the NHS Health Technology Assessment Programme in England. Initial estimation of the value for money of HTA was conducted for several topics considered in 1997 and 1998.

Results: The results indicate that, using information routinely available in the literature and from the vignettes, it was not possible to estimate the absolute value of HTA with any certainty for this stage of the prioritization process. Overall, the results were uncertain for 65% of the HTA questions or topics analyzed. The relative costs of the interventions or technologies compared to existing costs of care and likely levels of utilization were critical factors in most of the analyses. The probability that the technology was effective with the HTA and the impact of the HTA on utilization rates were also determinants of expected costs and benefits.

Conclusions: The main conclusion was that it is feasible to conduct ex ante assessments of the value for money of HTA for specific topics. However, substantial work is required to ensure that the methods used are valid, reliable, consistent, and an efficient use of valuable research time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-91
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • health technology assessment
  • priority setting

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