Identification of publicly available data sources to inform the conduct of Health Technology Assessment in India [version 2; referees: 2 approved, 1 approved with reservations]
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AbstractBackground: Health technology assessment (HTA) provides a globally-accepted and structured approach to synthesising evidence for cost and clinical effectiveness alongside ethical and equity considerations to inform evidence-based priorities. India is one of the most recent countries to formally commit to institutionalising HTA as an integral component of the heath resource allocation decision-making process. The effective conduct of HTA depends on the availability of reliable data. Methods: We draw from our experience of collecting, synthesizing, and analysing health-related datasets in India and internationally, to highlight the complex requirements for undertaking HTA, and explore the availability of such data in India. We first outlined each of the core data components required for the conduct of HTA, and their availability in India, drawing attention to where data can be accessed, and different ways in which researchers can overcome the challenges of missing or low quality data. Results: We grouped data into the following categories: clinical efficacy; cost; epidemiology; quality of life; service use/consumption; and equity. We identified numerous large local data sources containing epidemiological information. There was a marked absence of other locally-collected data necessary for informing HTA, particularly data relating to cost, service use, and quality of life. Conclusions: The introduction of HTA into the health policy space in India provides an opportunity to comprehensively assess the availability and quality of health data capture across the country. While epidemiological information is routinely collected across India, other data inputs necessary for HTA are not readily available. This poses a significant bottleneck to the efficient generation and deployment of HTA into the health decision space. Overcoming these data gaps by strengthening the routine collection of comprehensive and verifiable health data will have important implications not only for embedding economic analyses into the priority setting process, but for strengthening the health system as a whole.