Exploring the landscape of health technology assessment in Iran: Perspectives from stakeholders on needs, demand and supply

Aidin Aryankhesal, Meysam Behzadifar, Ahad Bakhtiari, Saeed Shahabi, Samad Azari, Banafshe Darvishi Teli, Aziz Rezapour, Seyed Jafar Ehsanzadeh, Masoud Behzadifar

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Abstract

Background: The evaluation of health technologies plays a crucial role in the allocation of resources and the promotion of equitable healthcare access, known as health technology assessment (HTA). This study focuses on Iran’s efforts to integrate HTA and aims to gain insights into stakeholder perspectives regarding capacity needs, demand and implementation. Methods: In this study, we employed the HTA introduction status analysis questionnaire developed by the International Decision Support Initiative (iDSI), which has been utilized in various countries. The questionnaire consisted of 12 questions divided into three sections: HTA need, demand and supply. To identify key informants, we conducted a literature review and consulted with the Ministry of Health and Medical Education (MOHME), as well we experts in policy-making, health service provision and HTA. We selected stakeholders who held decision-making positions in the healthcare domain. A modified Persian version of the questionnaire was administered online from September 2022 to January 2023 and was pretested for clarity. The analysis of the collected data involved quantitative methods for descriptive analysis and qualitative methods for thematic analysis. Results: In this study, a total of 103 questionnaires were distributed, resulting in a favourable response rate of 61% from 63 participants, of whom 68% identified as male. The participants, when assessing the needs of HTA, rated allocative efficiency as the highest priority, with a mean rating of 8.53, thereby highlighting its crucial role in optimizing resource allocation. Furthermore, healthcare quality, with a mean rating of 8.17, and transparent decision-making, with a mean rating of 7.92, were highly valued for their impact on treatment outcomes and accountability. The importance of budget control (mean rating 7.58) and equity (mean rating 7.25) were also acknowledged, as they contribute to maintaining sustainability and promoting social justice. In terms of HTA demand, safety concerns were identified as the top priority, closely followed by effectiveness and cost-effectiveness, with an expanded perspective on the economy. However, limited access to local data was reported, which arose from various factors including data collection practices, system fragmentation and privacy concerns. The priorities of HTA users encompassed coverage, payment reform, benefits design, guidelines, service delivery and technology registration. Evidence generation involved the participation of medical universities, research centres and government bodies, albeit with ongoing challenges in research quality, data access and funding. The study highlights government support and medical education as notable strengths in this context. Conclusions: This study provides a comprehensive evaluation of Iran’s HTA landscape, considering its capacity, demand and implementation aspects. It underlines the vital role of HTA in optimizing resources, improving healthcare quality and promoting equity. The study also sheds light on the strengths of evidence generation in the country, while simultaneously identifying challenges related to data access and system fragmentation. In terms of policy priorities, evidence-based decision-making emerges as crucial for enhancing healthcare access and integrating technology. The study stresses the need for evidence-based practices, a robust HTA infrastructure and collaboration among stakeholders to achieve better healthcare outcomes in Iran.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11
JournalHealth Research Policy and Systems
Volume22
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2024

Keywords

  • Capacity building
  • Decision-making
  • Health policy
  • Health technology assessment
  • Iran
  • Resource allocation

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