Published online by Cambridge University Press: 31 March 2009
Objectives: Several studies have shown that a key determinant of successful health technology assessment (HTA) uptake is a clear, fair, and consistent decision-making process for the approval and introduction of health technologies. The aim of this study was to gauge healthcare providers' and managers' perceptions of local level decision making and determine whether these processes offer a conducive environment for HTA. An Area Health Service (AHS) aimed to use the results of this study to help design a new process of technology assessment and decision making.
Methods: An online survey was sent to all health service managers and healthcare providers working in one AHS in Sydney, Australia. Questions related to perceptions of current health technology decisions in participants' own institution/facility and opinions on key criteria for successful decision-making processes.
Results: Less than a third of participants agreed with the statements that local decision-making processes were appropriate, easy to understand, evidence-based, fair, or consistently applied. Decisions were reportedly largely influenced by total cost considerations as well as by the central state health departments and the Area executive.
Conclusions: Although there are renewed initiatives in HTA in Australia, there is a risk that such investments will not be productive unless policy makers also examine the decision-making contexts within which HTA can successfully be implemented. The results of this survey show that this is especially true at the local level and that any HTA initiative should be accompanied by efforts to improve decision-making processes.