Rod Taylor

Professor of Health Services Research, Exeter Medical School

Author of: What is a health technology assessment?

Rod Taylor, MSc, PhD is Professor of Health Services Research and Academic lead for the Exeter Clinical Trials Support Network at the Exeter Medical School, University of Exeter, UK. His former academic appointments include the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Universities of Birmingham and Glasgow and he was first Director of Technology Appraisals at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

He has published over 200 research articles in the field of health services research and health technology assessment. Rod’s main research interests include clinical trial design for complex interventions, the use of surrogate outcomes in clinical trials and reimbursement policy, and the evaluation of the comparative effectiveness and cost effectiveness of medical devices.

His postgraduate qualifications include a PhD in Clinical Physiology (Glasgow), an MSc in Medical Statistics (London) and a Postgraduate Diploma in Health Economics (Aberdeen). He is currently a member of NICE’s Health Technology Appraisal and Interventional Procedures committees and NIHR Commissioned HTA Research, Health Service & Development Research and South West RfPB funding panels, editorial board member for International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care, European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, Pain Practice, Neuromodulation, Cochrane Heart Group and acts a methodological reviewer for a number of peer review journals.

Summary: What is a health technology assessment?

  • Health technologies include: ‘interventions used to promote health, to prevent, diagnose or treat acute or chronic disease, or for rehabilitation. They include pharmaceuticals, devices, procedures and organisational systems used in healthcare’.
  • Health technology assessment (HTA) has been defined as ‘the systematic evaluation of the properties of a health technology, addressing its direct and intended effects, as well as its indirect and unintended consequences, to inform decision-making’.
  • Key stakeholders in healthcare policy and decision-making include: patients, healthcare professionals, industry, third-party payers and government.
  • HTA has groundings in different methodological streams – policy analysis, evidence-based medicine, health economic evaluation and social science. It gives context-specific input into the policy-making process.
  • The HTA process and related research findings are just one input into the decision-making process. Other factors include: expertise and experience, lobbyists, policy context and values, and available resources.
  • There has been a growth in HTA to support the decision-making process in many countries, in line with a reduction in available resources. Although there are many similarities in the process in terms of methodologies used for assessment and attributes evaluated (clinical, cost-effectiveness, safety and quality of life), there is also considerable variability, predominantly in terms of remit and funding.
  • The process of defining best practice in HTA has been ongoing for several years at a national level. Work has been carried out to streamline HTA processes transnationally towards a practical collaboration to bring about more effective use of national HTA. To date, this work has taken the form of improving reporting standards (the International Network of Agencies for Health Technology Assessment); development of the HTA Core Model® and toolkit to aid transferability between settings (the European network for Health Technology Assessment); and suggestions for benchmarking the outputs from HTA agencies.