The number of people that suffer from one or more chronic diseases is rapidly increasing around the globe. Complex health technologies, such as disease management programs or specialised palliative care services, are imperative for matching the rise in chronic diseases in ageing populations. Health technology assessment (HTA) is used to inform decision making in policy and practice on the added value of health technologies. It includes “the systematic evaluation of properties, effects, and/or impacts of health technology. It may address the direct, intended consequences of technologies as well as indirect, unintended consequences.” Despite considerable achievements in recent years, contemporary HTA is not yet optimally equipped for the assessment of complex technologies. This is due to a lack of attention to the diversity in patient characteristics and patient preferences, the limited consideration of context and implementation issues, and missing strategies to integrate all these aspects into a comprehensive assessment.
INTEGRATE-HTA is an innovative project that aims to address existing methodological gaps in the assessment of complex technologies. Seven partners from five different European countries work closely together in a Consortium. These include Germany: University of Bremen (co-ordinator) and Ludwig Maximilians University Munich; The Netherlands: Ecorys Nederland B.V. and Radboud University Medical Center; Italy: Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore; Norway: University of Oslo and the UK: University of Sheffield. INTEGRATE-HTA started in January 2013 and runs until 31 December 2015. The project is co-funded by the European Union under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7-Health-2012-Innovation) under grant agreement number 30614.
The Consortium aims to develop tools and methods for HTA to enable a comprehensive, patient- centred, integrated (as opposed to simultaneous, but independent) assessment of complex technologies. More specifically, we will adapt and develop methods and concepts to assess the effectiveness and economic, social, cultural, and ethical issues of complex technologies, to elicit patient preferences and patient-specific moderators of treatment to include context, setting, and implementation and, finally, to integrate these issues into a patient-centred, comprehensive assessment of complex technologies. The innovative concepts and methods of integrating all relevant issues and modifying factors will be tested using a case study on palliative care. For the purpose of the case study Stakeholder Advisory Panels have been established in the five partner countries (UK, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands and Norway) as well as in Poland and Lithuania. Insights from the case study are subsequently used to refine the developed methodology and enhance its applicability to other complex technologies.
More information on the project, including the progress of our work and conference abstracts, posters and presentations can be found on the project website: www.integrate-hta.eu. In addition, we inform interested stakeholders via newsletters (twice a year). All editions of the newsletters are also available on our project website (www.integrate-hta.eu/downloads). If you are interested in receiving our newsletter by e-mail, or if you wish to receive more information please visit our website
The INTEGRATE-HTA project team
 Facey, K., edited by Topfer, L.A., and Chan, L. on behalf of the International Network of Agencies for Health Technology Assessment, “Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Glossary”, First edition. Stockholm: INAHTA Secretariat, 2006.