In the HTA network: national and international collaborations

Even at the early stages of its establishment, IQWiG quickly made not only national contacts, but also became active internationally. Today the Institute is an active member in health technology assessment (HTA) associations, both on a national and international level.

HTA in Germany and Europe

From 2004 at the latest, the systematic assessment of health technologies (health technology assessment, HTA) was institutionalized in Germany with the establishment of the Federal Joint Committee (G-BA) and IQWiG. As the first European country, Sweden had already established an HTA agency in 1987. In the 1990s various national HTA programmes followed in several European countries. Today, with about 90 HTA agencies and institutes in Europe, HTA is a firmly established instrument for informing decision-making in the health care system.

Content of HTA

HTA primarily weighs up the advantages and disadvantages of new health technologies. Depending on the structure of the respective healthcare system and HTA agency, the cost aspect of new technologies may also be evaluated. Ethical, social, legal, and organizational effects are also sometimes considered. 

Playing in the international HTA concert

IQWiG is an active member of several HTA associations such as the International Network of Agencies for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) as well as Health Technology Assessment International (HTAi). In 2013, IQWiG was voted onto the Board of HTAi and is a member of the Policy Forum of HTAi, which promotes a dialogue between the most important players in the international HTA concert. In addition,IQWiG is involved in the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR), and was voted onto the Board of its European HTA roundtable in 2013.

Over the years IQWiG has also been involved with the Cochrane Collaboration, which is closely connected to the German Network for Evidence-based Medicine (DNebM). IQWiG’s expertise has also been requested in various other international contexts.

Collaboration with NICE and HAS

Since 2006 IQWiG has been involved in an intense regular dialogue with the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in the United Kingdom and the Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS), the supreme health authority in France. Despite the structural differences between IQWiG and the two other agencies, the regular meetings are very stimulating for IQWiG’s work. Whereas in Germany, the “assessment” is conducted at IQWiG and the “appraisal” at the G-BA, at NICE and HAS both procedures are conducted under the same roof. 

For example, in a tax-funded public health care system, NICE directly includes the economic component in its assessments. At HAS, the whole regulation of the French health care system is centralized under one Roof.

European network through EUnetHTA

Initially started in 2006 only as a project, as a working network of ministries, authorities, and scientific institutes from the EU member states, the European Network for Health Technology Assessment (EUnetHTA) has developed into a stable construct with a positive perspective. IQWiG is a founding member of the network.

With increasing routine and following conjointly defined standards, the network partners produce HTA reports on drugs or non-drug interventions. The reports can then be partly or fully used on a national level. Under consideration of national requirements, the declared goal is to conduct HTA in the European network in a faster, better and more uniform manner. EUnetHTA receives funding from the European Union (EU) and is continuously increasing the number of its members, i.e. organizations conducting HTA in Europe.

Methods guidelines

With the deputy project management in the so-called working package 7 “Methodology development”, as an experienced partner IQWiG has taken on greater responsibility in the network, specifically for the development of conjoint methods guidelines. Distributed across 8 work packages in the action programme “Joint action 2”, from 2012 to 2015 the foundation is being extended to enable even closer scientific, technical, and organizational collaboration.

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