Health Technology Assessments (HTA) analyse the safety and efficacy of a technology, a drug or a vaccine, often in combination with an economic analysis of the intervention’s cost-effectiveness. The aim of these studies is to establish the ratio of the price of the technology to its health and quality-of-life benefits. These assessments are most often conducted on products presented as innovative, for which industry negotiates prices with the public authorities that are often (extremely) high.
HTAs often encounter a strong resistance, as they oppose the idea that “you can’t put a price on health”. On the contrary, we at KCE are persuaded that it is not ethical to reimburse a health intervention without first confirming in a real-life situation that it brings added value in terms of health, at a reasonable cost for society.
The principal aim of an HTA is not to achieve savings in the health sector or to obstruct the introduction of new technologies, but to support governments in using the available resources in the most efficient way while ensuring the quality, accessibility and relevance of care.
What is cost-effectiveness?
A cost-effectiveness analysis expresses the benefits of a given treatment in "healthy life years gain" or "quality-adjusted life-years gain" (which is also referred to as Quality-Adjusted Life-Year or QALY) for the patient.
When a treatment is less costly than an existing treatment while yielding better results for the patient, the choice between the two is easy. But new treatments often bring a health benefit at costs much higher than those of a conventional treatment. In this case, the ratio between the incremental cost and the lifetime gain (adjusted or not for quality of life) has to be calculated. This ratio is called the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER).