Health technology assessment and its role in the future development of the Indian healthcare sector
health technology assessment
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AbstractPublic expenditure on healthcare in India is low by international comparison, and access to essential treatment pushes many uninsured citizens below the poverty line. In many countries, policymakers utilize health technology assessment (HTA) methodologies to direct investments in healthcare, to obtain the maximum benefit for the population as a whole. With rising incomes and a commitment from the Government of India to increase the proportion of gross domestic product spent on health, this is an opportune moment to consider how HTA might help to allocate healthcare spending in India, in an equitable and efficient manner. Despite the predominance of out-of-pocket payments in the Indian healthcare sector, payers of all types are increasingly demanding value for money from expenditure on healthcare. In this review we demonstrate how HTA can be used to inform several aspects of healthcare provision. Areas in which HTA could be applied in the Indian context include, drug pricing, development of clinical practice guidelines, and prioritizing interventions that represent the greatest value within a limited budget. To illustrate the potential benefits of using the HTA approach, we present an example from a mature HTA market (Canada) that demonstrates how a new treatment for patients with atrial fibrillation - although more expensive than the current standard of care - improves clinical outcomes and represents a cost-effective use of public health resources. If aligned with the prevailing cultural and ethical considerations, and with the necessary investment in expert staff and resources, HTA promises to be a valuable tool for development of the Indian healthcare sector.