Published online by Cambridge University Press: 23 April 2004
Health technology assessment needs to relate to contemporary questions which concern public health-care systems: how to keep people healthy, how to focus on the needs of those with chronic disabilities and integrate care between the hospital and the community, how to encourage and audit effective teamwork, and how to establish a consensus about what is effective and affordable. Clinicians have an ethical responsibility to practice efficiently and economically, for profligacy in the care of one patient may mean that another is treated inadequately. For similar reasons, clinicians need to play a full role in the management of services. Advice from health technology assessment is vital and needs to be accurate, relevant, timely, clear, and accessible. As well as being concerned about what works, we need also to eliminate from practice what does not. Regular audit and appraisal of practice against the evidence base should be useful in this respect. Alternative approaches to management, such as the provision of care as opposed to aggressive treatments, need to be evaluated, and health technology assessment needs to consider how services are delivered, not just specific treatments.
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