Health Technology Assessment and Health Economics
- Technical Cooperation
- Tobacco in South America
What is a health technology?
The American Institute of Medicine defines health technology as medical and surgical procedures, devices, and drugs used in health care, as well as the organizational and administrative frameworks of the systems that offer these medical services.
• Clinical practices and procedures
• medical equipment
• Pharmaceutical products
• Organization systems
In 1976, the American Office of Technology Assessment defined technological evaluations as research works to assess the clinical, economic, and social consequences derived from the use of technology, including short- and mid-term consequences, as well as direct, indirect, desired, and undesired effects.
Technology within health systems:
Every day, health organizations face the need to include new technologies that range from new drugs and diagnostic procedures to high complexity equipment, immunization campaigns and preventive care plans). Often, the inclusion of these technologies is not scientifically justified and, therefore, resources are used injudiciously, affecting both the quality and the cost of health services.
In some cases, technologies are incorporated without having enough evidence about the actual benefits they may bring. Other times, less costly or safer technologies could have been selected. Frequently, a specific piece of technology is made available to a whole population instead of regulating and targeting its use at specific patients and situations (to avoid inferior quality services and unnecessary costs).
For these reasons, conducting health technology assessments is paramount. These evaluations are becoming more frequent within health systems worldwide to guide decision-making processes. There are even some countries where these assessments are mandatory to test a drug or a piece of technology.