NICE opens consultation on proposed changes to health technology appraisal

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has opened a public consultation on its planned changes for health technology appraisal, following a consultation review into its processes that closed in April 2021.

An initial draft health technology evaluations manual has been shared, as well as a survey to seek wider views over the next 8 weeks, until 13 October 2021 at 11.59pm.

The body then plans to review the responses in November, publish a new programme manual in December, and implement the new processes and methods from January 2022.

Enhancing speed and efficiency are two areas in which NICE will focus its efforts, following feedback from stakeholders, with other improvements set to include: speeding up patient access to new and promising health technologies; supporting better market access; and simplifying the health technology evaluation process.

In its release on the topic, NICE explained: “The purpose of our review is to optimise NICE’s evaluation methods to support the ambition of the NHS to provide high quality care that offers good value to patients and to the NHS.

“The review is not starting with a blank sheet of paper. This is an incremental development of our existing world class approach to evaluating new health technologies.”

The developments are what NICE says is a response to changes within the healthcare system and as a result of products becoming “more complicated to evaluate due to innovations” in areas such as personalised medicine, digital health technologies and cell therapy.

In addition, NICE notes that “demand for products to be made available more quickly” and “sometimes with a lower evidence base than was previously the case” has meant an increase in demand for its guidance and advice, with stakeholders also requesting the body’s involvement in commercial discussions and decisions.

To address this, NICE has set up a steering group which will have “senior oversight of the methods and process review” and consider national policies. The group will include health and care experts from a range of organisations, including NHS England, the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation and the Centre for Guidelines at NICE, the University of York, and the Department of Health and Social Care.

A methods working group, meanwhile, will “commission the development of topics by short-life task and finish groups” and consider proposals before making recommendations to the steering group. This group will also encompass a range of professionals from across health and tech, including NICE, NHS England and NHS Improvement, the Department of Health and Social Care, academia and industry.

Finally, a patient group has also been set up to garner feedback on themes and examples of patient involvement, and will feature representatives from organisations such as Arrhythmia Alliance, Breast Cancer Now and Myeloma UK.

To find out more about the review and the members of the steering and methods working groups, click here.

The consultation follows the recent launch of a five-year strategy from NICE, with focus on data, technologies and innovations.