Time to Reflect on Avenues to Improve HTA Processes

EPF Director of Policy Kaisa Immonen participated in an event organised by the Danish permanent representation, on 16 March 2016, on the topic of Relative Effectiveness Assessment (REA) at time of launch. 

This meeting was an opportunity to reflect on the EU Health Technology Assessment (HTA) collaboration, EUnetHTA, which Denmark has coordinated for the last ten years and which is now being taken over by the Netherlands for the joint action 3.

The discussions focused on the opportunities of EU Member States collaborating on Relative Effectiveness Assessments (REAs - assessment of the effectiveness compared with alternative treatments) and the barriers involved. Such collaboration could reduce duplication of efforts and accelerate the HTA process. It could improve the quality of HTAs and support Member States’ decision-making.

Some of the barriers remain the lack of agreement on a definition and inclusive criteria of an REA, and lack of trust from member states and payers about signing up to a joint process.

Kaisa participated in a panel discussion on the political and policy implications of REAs. She explained that the current situation is frustrating and confusing for patients. It is difficult for them to understand how patients in one country can access a treatment but not in another. Inequalities aside, there is a lack of effective communication around the decisions taken and of patient involvement. Kaisa underlined that, if conducted jointly with patients, REAs can be an effective tool in aiding patient access. However, those assessments have to be well integrated into the decision-making process. The types of outcome that it is important to examine are those that are patient-relevant, not only patient-reported, to ensure they measure what is important to patients.

Outcomes should ideally be co-designed with patients so they reflect the added value of a treatment. The industry could also do a better job of integrating patients’ needs earlier in the R&D process. She also stressed that in order to make a positive contribution to access, the REA should be able to draw a conclusion that can be implemented. Without that, they risk becoming an extra step that extends rather than shortens access times.

Contact person: Kaisa Immonen, Director of Policy, kaisa.immonen.charalambous@eu-patient.eu