In an overall context the principal criteria used by my Department in assessing new technology and drugs is based on the assessment of needs and the service plans submitted by health boards and voluntary hospitals to my Department.
Health technology assessment is a process that goes beyond describing equipment specifications and it requires an assessment of the use of technology including drugs in the context of the processes and medical procedures to be carried out.
In this regard an ad hoc group was set up by my Department in May 1998 to develop a health technology framework that will provide the basis for better decision making and enable benefits and cost effectiveness to be measured and evaluated in relation to health and social gain and level of service to the patient. It will also assist health service providers in optimising their economic health resources.
The members of the group are drawn from across the health sector on the basis of their knowledge and expertise in the area of health technology. They are currently focusing on technology that is emerging into practice and the development of protocols and guidelines in this regard. Other interested parties will be identified and consulted as work progresses.