Australian Government - Department of Health

Health Technology Assessment

Health Technology Assessment, Consumers and Communities

Why is health technology assessment (HTA) important?

Consumers have multiple reasons for ensuring that Australia has an effective, efficient HTA system. As patients, they want timely access to safe, affordable appropriate treatments for their condition. As carers, family members and friends they are affected by the impact of technologies on the patient’s ability to participate in family and community life. As members of the community and tax payers, they want to be confident that government funds are spent appropriately and, for technologies that do not pose other environmental or health risks.

In Australia, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) assesses the safety, quality and efficacy of new health technologies for entering on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG). Once a health technology is on the ARTG, it can be marketed for use in Australia.

The manufacturer or sponsor of a technology may also submit an application for their health technology to undergo HTA for reimbursement if they wish to seek public or private subsidy under an Australian Government funding program(s). This process assesses the technology for comparative clinical (including comparative safety) and cost-effectiveness compared to existing healthcare interventions. The Australian Government has three HTA expert advisory committees providing advice on whether health technologies should receive government funding:
  • the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) for pharmaceuticals to be funded under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and vaccines to be funded under the National Immunisation Program (NIP);
  • the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) for medical services involving new procedures or health technologies to be funded under the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) or other programs (for example, blood products or screening programs); and
  • the Prostheses List Advisory Committee (PLAC) for prostheses to be funded through private health insurance arrangements under the Prostheses List.

The government considers advice from these committees to inform decisions about which health technologies it should subsidise for Australians to provide them with safe, effective and quality health technologies, and which provide the best value for money for the Australian taxpayer.
Consumers expect the HTA system to provide:
  • rigorous safety assessment;
  • access to cost–effective health technologies; and
  • consumer choice of a range of reimbursed health care interventions.

Page currency, Latest update: 05 May, 2020