Objectives: The INTEGRATE-HTA project recommends that complexity be taken into account when conducting health technology assessments (HTAs) and suggests a five-step process for doing that. This study examines whether the approach suggested by INTEGRATE-HTA could be useful, appropriate, and feasible in the context of low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) given some of the typical challenges that healthcare systems face in those countries.
Methods: A nonexhaustive literature review was performed on the implementation in low and middle income countries of the five aspects recommended by the INTEGRATE-HTA project, using the following search terms: national health planning, health sector strategy, health sector performance, assessment criteria, health (management) information, complexity, context, stakeholder consultation.
Results: HTA is being practiced in LMIC in various ways and through different mechanisms, for example in health sector reviews, even though it is usually not referred to as HTA. It does not necessarily follow the five steps distinguished in the INTEGRATE-HTA model (scoping; defining the initial logic model; providing concepts and methods to identify, collect, and synthesize evidence in relation to various dimensions; extracting and presenting evidence in respect of agreed assessment criteria; providing guidance to draw conclusions and formulate recommendations).
Conclusions: The conditions for functional HTA are not always fulfilled in LMICs. At least four aspects would require special attention: (a) the scope and quality of routine health information that can support and be fed into health technology assessments and strategic planning; (b) consensus on health system performance assessment frameworks and their main criteria, in particular the inclusion of social disparities/equity and sustainability; (c) institutional capacity to set evidence-based priorities based on a variety of explicit criteria; (d) political will to engage with stakeholders in a transparent and inclusive consultation process about health priorities.