Objectives: To determine the need for and implement health technology assessment (HTA) to inform decision making and policy within a regional health care system in Calgary (Alberta, Canada).
Methods: Published literature and organizational materials for the Calgary Health Region (CHR) and HTA units worldwide were reviewed. Key individuals within the provincial health ministry (Alberta Health and Wellness), CHR, the University of Calgary (U of C), funding agencies, and HTA organizations were consulted in a structured fashion. A structure for a regional HTA program was developed, taking into account relationships between these organizations.
Results: A locally focused HTA and implementation unit was deemed desirable. The Calgary Health Technology Implementation Unit (CaHTIU) was established. The CaHTIU was designed to efficiently integrate with CHR planning as well as undertake independent research activities. HTA activities focus primarily on CHR needs and are managed by a Health Technology Advisory Committee (HTAC) that consists of CHR management and other key individuals. Working groups contribute to and coordinate HTAs and implementation under the leadership of the unit Director, and include content as well as management individuals. The unit cooperates where appropriate with extant Canadian HTA organizations.
Conclusions: The Calgary HTA unit is unique in Canada, because it functions within a regional health care system as well as a research institution. Advantages include a local focus in terms of applied HTAs, a systematic process for implementation of recommendations, and a collaborative atmosphere for research within the U of C.