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Quebec and New Zealand join international collaboration of health tech assessment bodies

The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has announced the addition of two new health technology assessment (HTA) bodies to a programme of international collaboration now spanning the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which seeks to “continually learn from data and implementation by using shared opportunities and challenges”.

The two new additions include the Institut national d’excellence en santé et en services sociaux from Quebec and Pharmac from New Zealand, with NICE sharing how the collaboration is prioritising work in three key areas for 2023/24: working sharing, horizon scanning, and science and methods development.

Focusing on pharmaceuticals and other health technologies, the partners aim to support HTA decision-making through sharing their work. Activities in this area include identifying methodological and procedural areas requiring HTA alignment to promote future work sharing; engaging with national and global stakeholders with regards to opportunities for work sharing; and undertaking initial process development and pilot identification. For non-pharmaceutical technologies, NICE adds, the partners will be developing a process through which information can be shared about planned and in-progress assessments.

In terms of horizon scanning, the group is looking to work together to improve system preparedness for “opportunities and challenges for the future”. They will be exploring how collaboration can support existing, planned and future horizon scanning for better utilisation of resources. In addition, for non-pharmaceutical technologies, the group aims to develop procedures to support exchange of intelligence “about technologies that could address health system priorities”.

Finally, for sciences and methods development, the group seeks to “collaborate flexibly” with a view to supporting partners to make the best use of skills and expertise. Activities planned here include ensuring regular information sharing about the science and method projects occurring within partner organisations, and developing a digital evaluation framework.

These priorities have shifted since last year, when the five priority areas were outlined as COVID-19, collaborating with regulators, digital and artificial intelligence, future-proofing of health tech assessment systems, and work-sharing and efficiency gains.

NICE announced its transformation plan back in July, covering its intention to “evolve” over the next few years, to meet “the changing needs of the health and care system”, recognising the need to adapt to be able to effectively manage new digital technologies and the “exponential” increase in health and care data.