Health Technology Assessment (HTA) is the systematic evaluation of properties, effects, and/or impacts of health care technology. It should include medical, social, ethical, and economic dimensions, and its main purpose is to inform decision-making in the health area. These assessments look at benefits and efficacy, clinical and technical safety, and cost-effectiveness. Informed decision-making comprises issues surrounding coverage and reimbursement, pricing decisions, clinical guidelines and protocols, and lastly, medical device regulation. The main purpose of HTA is to inform a policy decision making in health care, and thus improve the uptake of cost-effective new technologies and prevent the uptake of technologies that are of doubtful value for the health system.
HTA is used to define which benefits to include while carrying out evidence-based assessments. New technologies are usually costlier than older ones, and contribute to rising health expenditures. In this context the HTA process ensures that a new technology is not added until it is proven to be effective. Meanwhile, an older technology is not removed from the health package until it is shown to be ineffective or not cost-effective. HTA is also concerned with quality, and the role of new technologies to improve health outcomes. PAHO supports HTA activities that emphasize health outcomes that can be measured against a benchmark.