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 HTA Programme needs to be convinced that an intervention is ready for HTA evaluation. We've prepared a document outlining the issues that may determine this judgement.
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, when requested within the commissioning brief.
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.
What are technologies?
“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.
- 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
Which programme should I apply to?
The following guide compares the remits of NIHR and MRC translational research programmes to help researchers to determine which funding scheme is the most appropriate for their proposed project:
What we fund
The HTA Programme will support
- systematic reviews
- economic models
- 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
- 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
- The HTA will not fund standalone pilot and feasibility studies unless requested within a commissioning brief
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 NIHR Committees are required to declare any interests which conflict, or may be considered to conflict, with NIHR business, or may be perceived as influencing decisions made in the course of their work within NIHR. 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.
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 Clinical Evaluation and Trials
- HTA Prioritisation Committee: Integrated community health and social care
- HTA Prioritisation Committee: Hospital based care
- HTA Programme Oversight Committee
Funding Committee minutes and outcomes.
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 work in and use health and social care services. To demonstrate our gratitude to our reviewers and acknowledge the important work they do for the programme, the names of the past year's reviewers can be found on our reviewers list.
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 by telephone please call 023 8059 5544.
To enquire by email for a commissioned call query please contact email@example.com
To enquire by email for a researcher led call query please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you need help getting started? Contact the Research Design Service.
Do you need assistance running your study in the NHS? Contact the Study Support Service.
Most research supported by the HTA Programme will follow the normal two-stage process of assessment before being funded. However, it may sometimes be necessary to accelerate the handling of a topic and in such circumstances researchers may be eligible to apply through the fast-track scheme. Please note that this scheme is not open to HTA commissioned calls.
The fast-track scheme provides an opportunity to submit a stage 2 proposal directly, shortening the length of time it takes for a funding decision to be made. However, please bear in mind that proposals accepted onto the fast-track scheme will be considered on equal terms with other stage 2 proposals which have had the benefit of feedback by the Research Funding Committee at stage 1.
If you would like your proposal to be considered for the fast-track scheme, please contact email@example.com. You will be asked to:
- convince the secretariat that there is significant benefit to fast-tracking your application, and
- submit a written summary of your proposal (usually about one side of A4) in a PICO format if appropriate and/or describe the study briefly in terms of aims, research questions, outcome measures, scale, PPI, inclusion, stakeholder engagement, outputs and dissemination.
The information you provide will then be considered, and you will be informed whether your proposal is eligible for fast-tracking. If it is, you will be provided with more information about submitting your stage 2 application, and the timescales for doing this.
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