Applying health technology assessment to pharmaceutical care: pitfalls and future directions
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It has been argued in previous issues of this journal that health technology assessment can be used as a tool to assess the efficiency of pharmaceutical care by linking its impact on clinical and humanistic outcomes to the resources required to achieve these outcomes. Additionally, as policy-makers appreciate the need to evaluate projects on the basis of their costs and benefits, the application of health technology assessment to pharmaceutical care may serve as a way of communicating with policy-makers and informing policy on pharmaceutical care.
This article elaborates on this idea by arguing that policy-makers will be more likely to appreciate the value of pharmaceutical care if researchers pay more attention to some methodological principles underlying health technology assessment in the context of pharmaceutical care, and if they take into account the decision-making context facing policy-makers. In order to raise the methodological quality of studies, researchers need to take care to define better the pharmaceutical care intervention; to evaluate the costs of the intervention and its impact on the utilization of other health services; and to aggregate the various clinical and humanistic outcome measures that are commonly used in this type of research. In order to increase the usefulness of study findings to policy-makers, researchers need to identify the multiple objectives that policy-makers pursue, and show how study findings will aid policy-makers in attaining these objectives.
KeywordsHealth technology assessment Pharmaceutical care Methodology Decision-making
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