Australian Government - Department of Health

Health Technology Assessment

About Health Technology Assessment

Health Technology Assessment (HTA) provides policy-makers, funders, health professionals and health consumers with the information necessary to understand the benefits and comparative value of health technologies and procedures to inform policy, funding and clinical decisions, and assist with consumer decision-making. It is a key tool for the Australian Government to deliver a safe, effective and efficient health system that is fiscally sustainable in the longer term.

The Australian Government cannot financially support every new health technology that comes onto the market, so aims to direct government funding, in the form of subsidies, to health technologies that are both clinically effective and cost effective.

What is Health Technology Assessment (HTA)?

HTA is a range of processes and mechanisms that use scientific evidence to assess the quality, safety, efficacy, effectiveness and cost effectiveness of health services. HTA is commonly applied to pharmaceuticals (including vaccines), diagnostic tests, medical devices, surgically implanted prostheses, medical procedures and public health interventions. The key questions that HTA typically aims to answer for each new health technology, in comparison to alternative interventions, are:
  • Is it safe?
  • Does it improve health outcomes?
  • Is it cost effective?
Effective assessment of health technologies includes:
  • evaluating the comparative harms and benefits, using clinical evidence of patient safety, efficacy and clinical effectiveness; and
  • understanding the cause, origin and prevalence of disease and knowledge of best practice treatment pathways.
A well-performing HTA system will:
  • facilitate patient access to cost-effective health technologies that improve health outcomes;
  • minimise the use of technologies that are ineffective or harmful;
  • contribute to value for money investments in health technology in the context of limited health care resources;
  • keep pace with evolving technologies, clinical practices and HTA methodologies;
  • provide clear information on processes, rules and outcomes to stakeholders; and
  • ensure the system is designed to achieve these outcomes in the most timely, effective, efficient and targeted way.
HTA provides an assessment and prioritising of new technologies against existing health care interventions and other government funding priorities. This process results in the best value for money for the Australian community by considering both clinical effectiveness and cost effectiveness. This ensures that taxpayers’ money supports health care that achieves the maximum health improvement at the lowest cost.

HTA also provides health professionals, hospitals and consumers with information about safe, high-quality and clinically effective health technologies.
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Page currency, Latest update: 16 September, 2010