National approach needed to assessing new health technologies for public hospitals

Monday, August 24, 2020

A clear and consistent approach is needed across governments, health services and clinicians in assessing the value of new health technologies in public hospitals, says Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA).

‘And value needs to demonstrated not only in terms of costs and clinical outcomes, but in terms of outcomes that matter to patients.

‘And to determine value to patients we need to ensure that patient outcomes and experiences are measured and included in standardised datasets—something that does not routinely happen now, and certainly not on a national scale.

‘Equity is also a key consideration—beneficial technologies must be accessible to all patients.

‘Another vital ingredient, for example with robotic surgery, is that success should be considered over the longer term as well as the immediate post-operation benefits’, Ms Verhoeven said.

Ms Verhoeven is co-author with Anna Flynn, former Executive Director of the Australian Centre for Value-Based Health Care, of the Issues Brief, Measuring value in new health technology assessments: a focus on robotic surgery in public hospitals, published today by the AHHA’s Deeble Institute for Health Policy Research.

‘Our research showed that current processes for assessing the merits of implementing new health technology in public hospitals differ across states, territories and public and private health systems.

‘Value, in terms of both costs and patient outcomes is not yet clearly and consistently demonstrated.

‘However, a value-based approach to health care that puts patient outcomes and experience at the centre of a cost-effective universal healthcare system is generally supported by all Australian governments. This commitment is noted in the Addendum to the current National Health Reform Act.

‘The Addendum also foreshadows the development of a national framework that would provide a more consistent and transparent approach to assessing how new technologies are implemented in public hospitals and how funding mechanisms are applied to these processes to ensure that value is achieved.

‘Our paper includes a case study that could assist—namely, the robotic surgery program at Metro North Hospital and Health Service in Queensland. It is an example of how robotic surgery for hip and knee replacements can be assessed and implemented in a major metropolitan public hospital.

‘The case study highlights key success factors as well as limitations in identifying and implementing a new technology in the public hospital system and whether the value of the technology can be demonstrated.

‘One advantage of the Metro North example is that clinicians are very much engaged with overall hospital objectives, in addition to clinical objectives and patient outcomes, when assessing the value of new health technologies.’

The Issues Brief is available here

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association is the national peak body for public and not-for-profit hospitals, Primary Health Networks, and community and primary healthcare services.

Media enquiries: Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive, AHHA 0403 282 501