Objectives: The potential of routine data for health technology assessment (HTA) in the United Kingdom was assessed.
Methods: Compiled were a comprehensive list of routine databases, their classification according to data characteristics, literature review on their current use, and their comparison with key topics identified as priorities for HTA.
Results: Two hundred seventy health-care databases for England or the English regions were identified. Twenty-four included data on both health technology and patient health state. Eleven found some published use in effectiveness evaluation. Of 140 prioritized health technologies, only 22 could be identified in routine databases.
Conclusions: Routine data are plentiful but of limited use in HTA. The data sets usually do not include the effect of treatments. Coding is inadequate, and confidentiality regulations will make matters worse. Both need urgent attention.