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GMS Health Technol Assess. 2009 Nov 5;5:Doc15. doi: 10.3205/hta000077.

Methods for assessment of innovative medical technologies during early stages of development.

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Abteilung für Epidemiologie, Sozialmedizin und Gesundheitssystemforschung, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Hannover, Deutschland.


Conventional Health Technology Assessment (HTA) is usually conducted at a point in time at which the development of the respective technology may no longer be influenced. By this time developers and/or purchasers may have misinvested resources. Thus the demand for Technology Assessment (TA) which incorporates appropriate methods during early development stages of a technology becomes apparent. Against this health political background, the present report describes methods for a development-accompanying assessment of innovative medical technologies. Furthermore, international research programmes set out to identify or apply such methods will be outlined. A systematic literature search as well as an extensive manual literature search are carried out in order to obtain literature and information. The greatest units of the identified methods consist of assessment concepts, decision support methods, modelling approaches and methods focusing on users and their knowledge. Additionally, several general-purpose concepts have been identified. The identified research programmes INNO-HTA and MATCH (Multidisciplinary-Assessment-of-Technology-Centre-for-Healthcare) are to be seen as pilot projects which so far have not been able to generate final results. MATCH focuses almost entirely on the incorporation of the user-perspective regarding the development of non-pharmaceutical technologies, whereas INNO-HTA is basically concerned with the identification and possible advancement of methods for the early, socially-oriented technology assessment. Most references offer only very vague descriptions of the respective method and the application of greatly differing methods seldom exceeds the character of a pilot implementation. A standardisation much less an institutionalisation of development-accompanying assessment cannot be recognized. It must be noted that there is no singular method with which development-accompanying assessment should be carried out. Instead, a technology and evaluation specific method selection seem to be necessary as medical innovations are diverse and none of the methods are exhaustive. Because of a variety of issues (e. g. ideal time of evaluation, lack of data and uncertainty of data) a development-accompanying assessment should not replace a comprehensive HTA, but rather form a possible preceding step in a multi-staged HTA-process. A final appraisal of the methods for development-accompanying assessment cannot be made based on the available sources. However, the present review may serve as a starting point for further development and application of these methods as well as further examination of the concept of development-accompanying assessment. There is a substantial need for further research concerning the application, validation and comparison of the various methods for development-accompanying assessment.

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