Australian Government - Department of Health

Health Technology Assessment

Health Technology Assessment, Consumers and Communities

Why is health technology assessment (HTA) important?

Consumers have multiple reasons for ensuring that Australia has an effective, efficient HTA system. As patients, they want timely access to safe, affordable appropriate treatments for their condition. As carers, family members and friends they are affected by the impact of technologies on the patient’s ability to participate in family and community life. As members of the community and tax payers, they want to be confident that government funds are spent appropriately and, for technologies that do not pose other environmental or health risks.

In Australia, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) assesses the safety, quality and efficacy of new health technologies for entering on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG). Once a health technology is on the ARTG, it can be marketed for use in Australia.

The manufacturer or sponsor of a technology may also submit an application for their health technology to undergo HTA for reimbursement if they wish to seek public or private subsidy under an Australian Government funding program(s). This process assesses the technology for comparative clinical (including comparative safety) and cost-effectiveness compared to existing healthcare interventions. The Australian Government has three HTA expert advisory committees providing advice on whether health technologies should receive government funding:
  • the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) for pharmaceuticals to be funded under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and vaccines to be funded under the National Immunisation Program (NIP);
  • the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) for medical services involving new procedures or health technologies to be funded under the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) or other programs (for example, blood products or screening programs); and
  • the Prostheses List Advisory Committee for prostheses to be funded through private health insurance arrangements under the Prostheses List.

The government considers advice from these committees to inform decisions about which health technologies it should subsidise for Australians to provide them with safe, effective and quality health technologies, and which provide the best value for money for the Australian taxpayer.
Consumers expect the HTA system to provide:
  • rigorous safety assessment;
  • access to cost–effective health technologies; and
  • consumer choice of a range of reimbursed health care interventions.

How can consumers get involved?

The department works in partnership with the Consumers Health Forum of Australia and other consumer organisations to ensure consumers are represented on the HTA expert advisory committees.

Consumers are able to report an adverse event arising from use of a health technology directly to the TGA, which will investigate the report and implement appropriate action if required.

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) publishes a list of applications due for consideration at the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) meeting six weeks prior to each meeting. Consumers are able to provide comments on the item from a personal or group perspective for consideration by the PBAC when the submission is considered.

A formal targeted public consultation is conducted at the start of the MSAC process for an application; however consumers are able to provide comments on an application at any time throughout the MSAC process. All comments will be provided to MSAC and its sub-committees when the application is considered. The applications scheduled for consideration by MSAC and its two sub-committees are published approximately four weeks prior to each meeting.

HTA Consumer Consultative Committee

In March 2017, a new consumer committee was formed by the Department of Health. Its job is to help the Department work more closely with consumers and communities when decisions are made about health technology assessments. This includes decisions about public funding of new and emerging medicines, health technologies and services.

The committee is called the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Consumer Consultative Committee (CCC). It will provide independent advice and support to the Department and its main health technology assessment committees, the PBAC, the MSAC and the PLAC.

The HTA CCC members are all currently involved in PBAC, MSAC or PLAC work. They will work together to bring consumer and community evidence and views into health technology assessment processes. This will include more timely and targeted public consultation processes. HTA CCC members will be creating opportunities for patient groups and communities to learn more about the assessment processes and when and how to effectively contribute consumer and community evidence and views.

You can review the Committee membership here and the Committee Terms of Reference below.

Communique from the CCC

For contact details please refer to specific contacts.

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Page currency, Latest update: 19 February, 2018