What the Role of HTA in Healthcare Systems should be after COVID-19?
The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed healthcare systems around the world. One of important issues that COVID-19 clearly emphasizes is the critical importance of information on health technology and policy. Handling the COVID-19 pandemic was difficult at the beginning because humanity all faced the pandemic with little knowledge. We didn’t know whether COVID vaccines worked and what was the most effective policy to handle it. However, every country had to quickly make decisions based on limited information and kept adjusting policies until they found a policy suitable for them. Over this period, HTA, which focused on providing information on health technology and policy had an important role in managing COVID-19.
At the 10th HTAsiaLink Annual Conference 2022 on 30th November – 2nd December 2022, there was a forum regarding this topic, attended by experts from India, Taiwan, South Korea, and other world experts to share their opinions on the impact of COVID-19 on HTA and prediction of the role of HTA in their countries and the post-COVID-19 world.
COVID-19 causes an urgent need for information
For example, in India, not much HTA full-scale research was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic because it took a lot of time, maybe around a year from the beginning to the ending process to make policymakers use that information in time. Therefore, many HTA researchers decided to use the rapid health technology assessment (rapid HTA) method instead. Normally, the assessment process of one research takes 6-9 months. However, there is some consideration for the rapid HTA method due to the limit of use. Moreover, it needs a high-quality and transparent process which requires more development.
COVID-19 increases patient participation through social media in Taiwan
In Taiwan, a new drug policy process provides an opportunity for patients to give information on drugs or relevant experiences on a website. After that, an expert consultation meeting will be held to make a preliminary decision before making a final decision. Patient representatives also attend the meeting but have no right to vote. The COVID-19 pandemic caused new platforms, i.e., social media and virtual meeting platforms, such as Zoom or WebEx to increase patient participation.
COVID-19 always emphasizes the importance of technology literacy
In South Korea, horizon scanning is conducted to track and discover new technologies when reaching market needs or at an early stage of development, and find out about the safety, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of those technologies in order that policymakers could have those information at the earliest. During the pandemic, the need for new innovations and interests in telemedicine has clearly increased to manage COVID-19.
However, all experts totally agree that building a strong HTA foundation in a long term is important to the healthcare system after COVID-19 in order that HTA better support existing processes and respond to new policy issues more effectively. The Post-COVID-19 world will bring new processes and new ways of treating and providing services to patients and the public continuously. If HTA could keep pace with or be a step ahead of those changes, it will help policymaking using academic evidence for decision-making go smoothly.
Compiled from Plenary Session 1, HTAsiaLink Annual Conference 2022 on the topic Reimagining the Post-COVID Health System and HTA by Prof. Shankar Prinja (Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, India), Ying-Li (Tommy) Chen (Center for Drug Evaluation, Taiwan), Dr. Miyoung Choi (National Evidence-based Health Care Collaborating Agency, South Korea, and Dr. Tessa Tan-Torres Edejer (World Health Organization).