On 28 January 2013, Sir Michael gave a public lecture on “Optimising health care in the UK National Health Service: Balancing quality and efficiency” as part of the PMAC conference. Due to the variable backgrounds of the attendees, this lecture aimed to introduce the term HTA and its roles in the National Health Services in the UK. In addition, the lecture also projected how to balance quality and efficiency with consideration paid to evidence based policy decision making in the universal health coverage program.
Starting with an introduction on the role of NICE, Sir Michael stated that NICE’s principles focus on the use of robust and best available evidence; working with a systematic process; and endorsing a transparent appraisal process, where all stakeholders can comment and challenge NICE recommendations. These principles ensure that policy makers will make decisions based on the best evidence and therefore be able to appropriately allocate limited health resources.
Sir Michael also mentioned that HTA has been used differently in many settings; some employ full HTA with decision-making powers; some use full HTA without decision-making powers; and some use partial HTA without considerations of cost. At NICE, full HTA has been employed. NICE not only uses HTA for making decision on health investments, but are for clinical guidelines in order to enhance the quality of care and efficiency in the methods used to diagnose, treat and prevent disease and ill health.
Finally, Sir Michael concluded that although HTA has already played a crucial role in setting healthcare priorities in the UK, there is still the need to evolve and improve, as there is no system with a perfect approach. In this case, he also added that we need to learn from one another about what works and what doesn’t.