Objectives: Obsolescence is a natural phase of the lifecycle of health technologies. Given increasing cost of health expenditures worldwide, health organizations have little choice but to engage in health technology reassessment (HTR); a structured, evidence-based assessment of the medical, social, ethical, and economic effects of a technology, currently used within the healthcare system, to inform optimal use of that technology in comparison to its alternatives. This research was completed to identify and summarize international HTR initiatives for non-drug technologies.
Methods: A systematic review was performed using the terms disinvestment, obsolescence, obsolete technology, ineffective, reassessment, reinvestment, reallocation, program budgeting, and marginal analysis to search PubMED, MEDLINE, EMBASE, and CINAHL until November 2011. Websites of organizations listed as members of INAHTA and HTAi were hand-searched for gray literature. Documents were excluded if they were unavailable in English, if the title/abstract was irrelevant to HTR, and/or if the document made no mention of current practices. All citations were screened in duplicate with disagreements resolved by consensus.
Results: Sixty full-text documents were reviewed and forty were included. One model for reassessment was identified; however, it has never been put into practice. Eight countries have some evidence of past or current work related to reassessment; seven have shown evidence of continued work in HTR. There is negligible focus on monitoring and implementation.
Conclusions: HTR is in its infancy. Although health technology reassessments are being conducted, there is no standardized approach. Future work should focus on developing and piloting a comprehensive methodology for completing HTR.