About the HTA Programme
The HTA Programme produces independent research about the effectiveness of different healthcare treatments and tests for those who use, manage and provide care in the NHS. It identifies the most important questions that the NHS needs the answers to by consulting widely with these groups, and commissions the research it thinks is most important through different funding routes.
The term ‘health technology’ covers a range of methods used to promote health, prevent and treat disease and improve rehabilitation and long term care including:
- Drugs: such as antidepressants, contraceptives, antibiotics
- Devices: such as pacemakers, dialysis machines, hearing aids
- Procedures: such as surgical techniques, acupuncture, counselling
- Settings of care: such as general practice, hospitals, care homes
- Screening: for cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, stroke
Health Technology Assessment asks important questions about these technologies such as:
- when is counselling better than drug treatment for depression?
- what is the best operation for aortic aneurysms?
- should we screen for human papilloma virus when doing cervical smears?
- should aspirin be used for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease?
It answers these questions by investigating four main factors:
- whether the technology works
- for whom
- at what cost
- how it compares with the alternatives
For useful terms please see the HTA A to Z