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Consideration of ethical, legal, and social issues plus patient values (ELSI+) in health technology assessment (HTA) is challenging because of a lack of conceptual clarity and the multi-disciplinary nature of ELSI+. We used concept mapping to identify key concepts and inter-relationships in the ELSI+ domain and provide a conceptual framework for consideration of ELSI+ in HTA.
We conducted a scoping review (Medline and EMBASE, 2000–2016) to identify ELSI+ issues in the HTA literature. Items from the scoping review and an expert brainstorming session were consolidated into eighty ELSI+-related statements, which were entered into Concept Systems® Global MAX™ software. Participants (N = 38; 36 percent worked as researchers, 21 percent as academics; 42 percent self-identified as HTA experts) sorted the statements into thematic groups, and rated them on importance in making decisions about adopting technologies in Canada, from 1 (not at all important) to 5 (extremely important). We used Concept Systems® Global MAX™ software to create and analyze concept maps with four to sixteen clusters.
Our final ELSI+ map consisted of five clusters, with each cluster representing a different concept and the statements within each cluster representing the same concept. Based on the concepts, we named these clusters: patient preferences/experiences, patient quality of life/function, patient burden/harm, fairness, and organizational. The highest mean importance ratings were for the statements in the patient burden/harm (3.82) and organizational (3.92) clusters.
This study suggests an alternative approach to ELSI+, based on conceptual coherence rather than academic disciplines. This will provide a foundation for incorporating ELSI+ into HTA.
Procurement's important role in healthcare decision making has encouraged criticism and calls for greater collaboration with health technology assessment (HTA), and necessitates detailed analysis of how procurement approaches the decision task.
We reviewed tender documents that solicit medical technologies for patient care in Canada, focusing on request for proposal (RFP) tenders that assess quality and cost, supplemented by a census of all tender types. We extracted data to assess (i) use of group purchasing organizations (GPOs) as buyers, (ii) evaluation criteria and rubrics, and (iii) contract terms, as indicators of supplier type and market conditions.
GPOs were dominant buyers for RFPs (54/97) and all tender types (120/226), and RFPs were the most common tender (92/226), with few price-only tenders (11/226). Evaluation criteria for quality were technical, including clinical or material specifications, as well as vendor experience and qualifications; “total cost” was frequently referenced (83/97), but inconsistently used. The most common (47/97) evaluative rubric was summed scores, or summed scores after excluding those below a mandatory minimum (22/97), with majority weight (64.1 percent, 62.9 percent) assigned to quality criteria. Where specified, expected contract lengths with successful suppliers were high (mean, 3.93 years; average renewal, 2.14 years), and most buyers (37/42) expected to award to a single supplier.
Procurement's evaluative approach is distinctive. While aiming to go beyond price in the acquisition of most medical technologies, it adopts a narrow approach to assessing quality and costs, but also attends to factors little considered by HTA, suggesting opportunities for mutual lesson learning.