Objectives: The EuroScan International Network is a global network of publicly funded early awareness and alert (EAA) systems for health technologies. We describe the EuroScan member agency systems and methods, and highlight the potential for increased collaboration.
Methods: EuroScan members completed postal questionnaires supplemented with telephone interviews in 2012 to elicit additional information and check equivalence of responses. Information was updated between March and May 2013.
Results: Fifteen of the seventeen member agencies responded. The principal purpose of agencies is to inform decisions on coverage or reimbursement of health services and decisions on undertaking secondary research. The main users of information are national governments; health professionals; health services purchasers, commissioners, and decision makers; and healthcare providers. Most EuroScan agencies are small with almost half having fewer than two whole time equivalent staff. Ten agencies use both active and passive identification approaches, four use only active approaches. Most start identification in the experimental or investigational stages of the technology life cycle. All agencies assessed technologies when they are between the investigational and established, but under diffusion stages. Barriers to collaboration revolve around different system aims, purposes, and requirements; a lack of staff, finance, or opportunity; language differences; and restrictions on dissemination.
Conclusions: Although many barriers to collaboration were identified, the majority of agencies were supportive of increased collaboration either involving the whole EuroScan Network or between individual agencies. Despite differences in the detailed identification processes, members thought that this was the most feasible phase to develop additional collaboration.