Objectives: In Austria, research in health technology assessment (HTA) has been conducted since the 1990s. The aim of this study is to analyze whether the HTA research program of the Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA) and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for HTA (LBI-HTA) have had an impact on the Austrian healthcare system.
Methods: We applied qualitative and quantitative empirical research methods, such as interviewing, download analysis, questionnaire, retrospective routine data analysis, and media analysis. Data were analyzed according to a conceptual framework, considering seven impact categories (awareness, acceptance, process, decision, practice, final outcomes, enlightenment) and different target groups.
Results: A rising number of downloads and single HTA reports with high media interest were identified. Interviews showed that HTA reports have increasingly been used for investment and reimbursement decisions, as well as for the preparation of negotiations. Economic impact was indicated by decreased expenditures due to HTA recommendations. Overall, knowledge about evidence-based medicine increased and, in places, an “HTA culture” can be recognized. Yet, several decision-making processes occur at all levels without the use of HTA.
Conclusions: The analysis demonstrated an impact within all predefined categories; however, it depends on the system level and its target groups. HTA reports are primarily used by hospital management, (social) insurances, and the Austrian Ministry of Health. Nevertheless, there is still potential to increase the impact of HTA. Therefore, the inclusion of HTA in decision-making processes in Austria needs to move from a voluntary basis to a mandatory one.