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This article retrospectively examines the evolution of rapid assessments (RAs) produced by the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Program at the Institute of Health Economics over its 25-year relationship with a single requester, the Alberta Health Ministry (AHM).
The number, types, and methodological attributes of RAs produced over the past 25 years were reviewed. The reasons for developmental changes in RA processes and products over time were charted to document the push–pull tension between AHM needs and the HTA Program's drive to meet those needs while responding to changing methodological benchmarks.
The review demonstrated the dynamic relationship required for HTA researchers to meet requester needs while adhering to good HTA practice. The longstanding symbiotic relationship between the HTA Program and the AHM initially led to increased diversity in RA types, followed by controlled extinction of the less fit (useful) “transition species.” Adaptations in RA methodology were mainly driven by changes in best practice standards, requester needs, the healthcare environment, and staff expertise and technology.
RAs are a useful component of HTA programs. To remain relevant and useful, RAs need to evolve according to need within the constraints of HTA best practice.
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