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Health Technology Assessment

The Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme funds research about the clinical and cost-effectiveness and broader impact of healthcare treatments and tests for those who plan, provide or receive care from NHS and social care services.

 

The Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme is funded by the NIHR with specific contributions from the Chief Scientist Office (CSO) in Scotland, Health and Care Research Wales and the HSC R&D Division, Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland.

HTA research is undertaken where some evidence already exists to show that a technology can be effective and this needs to be compared to the current standard intervention to see which works best.

Research can evaluate any intervention used in the treatment, prevention or diagnosis of disease, provided the study outcomes lead to findings that have the potential to be of direct benefit to NHS patients.

The researcher-led workstream offers researchers the opportunity to submit proposals on topics or research questions within the programme’s remit.
The commissioned workstream invites applications in response to calls for research on specific questions which have been identified and prioritised for their importance to the NHS and patients. Proposals may include primary research, evidence synthesis, or feasibility and pilot studies.

All of our funded projects are eligible for publication in the NIHR Journals Library. This open access resource  is freely available online, and provides a full and permanent record of NIHR-funded research.

The Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme supports research that is immediately useful to patients, clinical practice, and policy or decision makers.

HTA research is undertaken when evidence exists to show that a technology can be effective. The purpose of an HTA study is to establish the clinical and cost-effectiveness for the NHS in comparison with the current best alternative(s).  A study may also investigate uncertainty around a technology’s place in the existing care pathway.

“Technologies” in this context mean any method used to promote health; prevent and treat disease; and improve rehabilitation or long-term care. They are not confined to new drugs and include any intervention used in the treatment, prevention or diagnosis of disease.

  • Examples include:
  • procedures
  • drugs
  • devices
  • diagnostic tests
  • settings of care
  • screening programmes

The technology doesn't necessarily need to exist in current NHS practice, but a study would need to show that it could.

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

The HTA Programme will support:

  • systematic reviews
  • economic models
  • meta-analyses
  • mixed-treatment comparisons
  • expected Value of Information studies
  • randomised controlled trials (unblinded, single-blinded, double-blinded, triple-blinded)
  • non-randomised trials
  • single-centre studies where a strong case has been made for this type of design and there is assurance the results will be generalizable to the wider NHS
  • stand-alone pilot and feasibility studies (where there is evidence they will lead to a full trial)
  • cohort studies (retrospective or prospective)
  • adaptive designs
  • modelling studies
  • international studies

The HTA Programme will not support:

  • phase 2 trials (our EME Programme may be more suitable)
  • research on new equipment
  • PhD research
  • proposals currently pending with another research funder

In this section you can read more on the people involved in the assessment of applications for the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme, and find out more about becoming a reviewer or a Committee member.

New developments in health research funding are transforming the way research in the NHS is organised and carried out. The HTA  Programme invites and works with a range of individuals to meet the research needs of the NHS. Their support and input allows us to fund high-quality, evidence-based, value for money research.

The people who work in, work with or use NHS services provide vital input into all stages of the HTA Programme.

Members of the HTA committees are required to declare any interests which conflict, or may be considered to conflict, with HTA business, or may be perceived as influencing decisions made in the course of their work within the HTA Programme in line with the Conflicts of Interest Policy. All members are asked to complete the Register of Interest form (annually), which is intended to capture long term predictable interests that could be perceived to lead to conflicts of interest. These and other interests are judged on a case by case basis at individual meetings. View the Register of Interests for each HTA Programme committee.

Our Director

Professor Hywel Williams

Watch the latest director's message

Our committees

The HTA Committees meet three times a year to assess the scientific merit of proposals submitted to both the commissioned and researcher-led workstreams, including themed calls and evidence synthesis proposals, and to make funding recommendations to the Programme Oversight Committee. You can view the members of our committees on the links below:

HTA Funding Committee (General)

HTA Funding Committee (Commissioning)

HTA Funding Committee (Researcher-led)

Funding Committee minutes and outcomes

 Reviewers

To assure the scientific quality of its research, the HTA Programme relies upon the help of external reviewers to review:

  • the research and commissioning briefs it produces
  • the research proposals it receives
  • the final reports of research findings

External reviewers play a vital part in maintaining and improving the quality of HTA Programme research and are sought from a variety of fields, including clinical, methodological and those who use NHS services. View a list of HTA reviewers.

We offer a wide variety of assistance during all stages of the research process. If in doubt, please get in touch.

For help with applying for HTA funding:

Commissioned calls

Tel: 023 8059 5510
Email: htacommissioning@nihr.ac.uk

Researcher-led calls

Tel: 023 8059 5544
Email: htacet@nihr.ac.uk

General queries

Email: htafunding@nihr.ac.uk

Latest funding opportunities for Health Technology Assessment

19/93 Liver disease

We are accepting applications for this funding opportunity.

19/94 Perinatal mental health

The EME, HS&DR, HTA and PHR Programmes are all accepting applications for this funding opportunity.

19/95 Solid organ replacement, transplant and donation

The EME, HS&DR, HTA and PHR Programmes are all accepting applications for this funding opportunity.

19/69 Clinical and cost effectiveness of alternative catheter design at preventing catheter-associated urinary tract infection

The Health Technology Assessment Programme is accepting stage 1 applications to their commissioned workstream for this primary research topic

19/72 Pain relief strategies for dressing change in chronic wounds

The Health Technology Assessment Programme is accepting stage 1 applications to their commissioned workstream for this evidence synthesis topic.


Latest news about Health Technology Assessment

News: CBT could benefit mental health of children with long term conditions

CBT for children with long term health conditions
Read more

News: Study shows use of partial knee replacement could save the NHS £30 million per year

Study shows use of partial knee replacement could save the NHS £30 million per year
Read more

News: Finger-prick blood test at GP surgery could safely reduce antibiotic use in patients with COPD

Finger-prick blood test at GP surgery could safely reduce antibiotic use in patients with COPD
Read more

Latest blogs about Health Technology Assessment

Blog: Biomarker testing for COPD flare-ups: Picking up the pace in the battle against antimicrobial resistance?

Biomarker testing for COPD flare-ups: Picking up the pace in the battle against antimicrobial resistance?
Read more

Blog: Does how we detect the spread of cancer need to change?

NIHR Blog placeholder image
Read more

Blog: Reducing pressures on the NHS: Using flexible sigmoidoscopy to investigate bowel cancer symptoms

NIHR Blog placeholder image
Read more

Latest documents for Health Technology Assessment

19/94 Perinatal Mental Health commissioning brief

Commissioning brief Perinatal Mental Health

19/95 Solid organ replacement, transplant and donation commissioning brief

Commissioning brief for solid organ replacement, transplant and donation

19/93 Liver disease commissioning brief

Commissioning brief Liver disease

Public Minutes HTA Programme Oversight Committee June 2019

Public Minutes HTA Programme Oversight Committee June 2019

19/69 Clinical and cost-effectiveness of alternative urinary catheter design

Commissioning brief Clinical and cost-effectiveness of alternative urinary catheter design