Health Technology Assessment (HTA)

EORTC joins Horizon 2020 consortium to develop patient-centred health technology assessments

EORTC is a partner in the newly-launched HTx Project Consortium, involving organisations from 11 European countries with the intention of developing better, more personalised health technology assessment (HTA) in order to address the aims of diverse and changing healthcare systems. The project will run for five years, and will support patient-centred, socially-oriented and real-time decision-making for integrated healthcare throughout Europe.

Over the past few decades, the role and importance of HTA has developed gradually in response to the greater emphasis on evidence-based decision-making in healthcare, concurrent with increased pressures on the financing and delivery of healthcare. To date, much of the function of HTA, and the use of its outputs in healthcare systems, have advanced somewhat organically. Developments on both fronts have been reactive to political, societal and financial needs rather than being proactively ‘designed’ to address the needs of diverse and changing healthcare systems.

“However, there has been an increasing awareness of the need for more personalised HTA, capable of defining for whom specific health technologies work as well as for whom they are not essential,” says Dr Lifang Liu, Senior Epidemiologist in the EORTC Department of Statistics.

Being certain that the right treatment is provided to the right patient at the right time is important, as is ensuring that this leads to an increase in societal healthcare benefits. However, the data needed to inform these types of decisions are still rare. If HTA organisations are to be required to make more tailored decisions on complex health technologies using more complicated data, new HTA methods need to be developed for this.

HTx aims to develop methodologies to deliver more customised information on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of complex and personalised combinations of health technologies; to provide methods to support personalised treatment advice to be shared with patients and their physicians; and to collaborate with the European Network for HTA (EUnetHTA) and its stakeholders in order to pilot the implementation of these methods in Europe.

“EORTC will be contributing a case study looking at the benefits of proton therapy as opposed to traditional photon therapy for patients with head and neck cancer. Built on the radiotherapy infrastructure of EORTC–E2RADIatE*, patients from more than 20 proton therapy centres in Europe will contribute to the analysis, which will make it the first and largest European study population in this important question in the field of radiation oncology.

“This project shows the essential role of established clinical organisations such as EORTC in the process of health technology assessment in associating international world-class experts, and developing rigorous methodology in order to generate robust evidence that can minimise uncertainties in HTA decision making,” says Dr Liu.

Htx Co-ordinator, Dr Wim Goettsch, associate professor at Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands, said: “Our project addresses the reality that, on the one hand, we still do HTAs on single health technologies in one or maybe two different settings, but that, in reality, these health technologies are subsequently used in many different settings. I am well aware that addressing this issue is challenging and complex, but we need to strive to find methods that are capable of addressing the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of combinations of technologies, and different sequences of treatments and treatments that are based on diagnostic and genetic testing. “

All the partners hope that in five years these new methods will be integrated into existing HTA organisations and will thus support patients and their healthcare providers in making personal decisions on the best personalised treatments.

*The EORTC–E2RADIatE study will collect the real-word data of cancer patients treated with radiotherapy in order to support radiotherapy research and to provide evidence of the role of radiation oncology in a multidisciplinary approach to cancer.

The project has been funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme: grant agreement Nº 825162.

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