Objectives: This study is to review health technology assessment (HTA) development in China during the past two decades, and to facilitate further development of HTA and its integration into policy making.
Methods: The study depends very much on the extensive experiences of the authors in involvement of HTA in China. In addition, literature review and Web site searching have been used to trace the process of growth of HTA in China.
Results: With its rapid economic development, the Chinese health system has had many achievements in the past 30 years. However, there are some weaknesses that have developed during this period. HTA is traced back to the early 1990s in China. First, HTA knowledge transfer and establishment of HTA units were effective ways to develop HTA in China. By the end of 1990s, the policy makers of the Ministry of Health (MoH) made efforts to merge HTA with policy making to improve the quality and efficiency of health care. The main government authorities related to health technology are the State Food and Drug Administration, the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, and the MoH. Their involvements in HTA are varied.
Conclusion: A technology licensure mechanism based on HTA, including technology permission for use, institution licensure, and workforce licensure, is being gradually carried out by the MoH in China. Moreover, HTA can play an important role in technology market entry, insurance benefit coverage, formulary, clinical pathway, reimbursement, and so on. There is a great opportunity for HTA to be an important part of health reform, especially to help policy makers within the health sector to make difficult decisions.