Opportunities to Promote Efficiency in Hospital Decision-Making through the Use of Health Technology Assessment

CHSRF Series of Reports on Cost Drivers and Health System Efficiency: Paper 7

Full Report  (PDF, 664 KB)

Marie-Pierre Gagnon
Principal Investigator, Faculty of Nursing, Université Laval


  • Health technology assessment (HTA) is a multidisciplinary area of applied research that produces high quality information about health technologies—drugs, medical technologies and health interventions. The HTA produces recommendations on whether a health technology should be considered, funded and adopted into practice. The goal is to use the research and recommendations from the HTA to inform decisions that will improve quality and cost-effectiveness of healthcare.
  • In Canada, there are several well-established agencies at the national and provincial levels that successfully perform HTA. More and more, however, HTA units are being implemented in a local/ hospital-based setting, based on a growing awareness that the local context needs to be taken into account when assessing health technologies.
  • Four different models for performing local/hospital-based HTA have been identified and are currently in use world-wide: the ambassador model; mini-HTA; internal committee; and HTA unit. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. There is insufficient evidence available to adequately assess which of these models would be the best for Canadian hospitals.
  • Research shows that local/hospital-based HTA may influence decision-making. There are reports from isolated experiences related to local/hospital-based HTA on hospital decisions and budgets, as well as positive perceptions from managers and clinicians.
  • It is difficult to evaluate the overall impacts of HTA on the various levels of healthcare delivery, largely because most hospital-based HTA experiences are recent and there is a paucity of data. Further research is necessary to explore the conditions under which local/hospital-based HTA results and recommendations can have an impact on hospital policies, clinical decisions and quality of patient care.
  • The potential exists to share expertise and methodologies between local/hospital-based HTA units. However, there are challenges in directly transferring research knowledge from one organization to another, given the specificity of the context from hospital to hospital.