Faced with increasing financial challenges to the single-payer social security system and constitutional challenges supporting all citizen's right to health, Costa Rica has endeavored to introduce Health Technology Assessment (HTA) to ensure sustainability and promote the timely introduction of technology innovations in the health system. The Ministry of Health initiated a process to establish an independent, external institution providing leadership in the process of HTA.
Based on a survey developed by REDETSA/PAHO (HTA Network of the Americas/Pan American Health Organization), an inclusive method of stakeholders participation was used to analyze the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats regarding the implementation of an HTA entity. This was combined with qualitative research methods, market access situation analysis and the review of coverage and provision processes to define the elements for the new HTA institution. The “in-depth” interviews extended to manufacturers, ministry representatives, services providers, purchasers, patients and citizens representatives, judiciary court, professional colleges, academia and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Analysis of the professional competencies required for the HTA institution was carried out based on best practice analysis of international HTA institutions.
The implementation of an HTA unit in Costa Rica was identified by all the actors as crucial to ensuring the health system's sustainability. Costa Rica's health system is based on all citizens right to health and all inputs required delivering health services, judicialization and access to health care have become a big issue. Two main issues were identified as essential to implement an HTA institution: the establishment of a clear framework to provide legal and financial support and the need to have sufficient independence from the Ministry and the Social Security, including maximum transparency and methodological robustness.
The business model for the new HTA institution should consider the participation of all the interested actors. The HTA institution should bridge the gap between technology regulation and health technology management and aim to improve both processes. It should also provide third party independent evidence to inform the constitutional court around health care claims.