A key part of our work at Health Technology Wales (HTW) is the appraisal of non-medicine health and social care technologies and models of care and support; this is also known as health technology assessment (HTA). We research and evaluate the best available effectiveness and cost-effectiveness evidence about a health or social care technology. Based on this evidence, we publish guidance on whether the health or social care technology should be adopted for use in Wales.
Suggesting a topic
We actively seek topic suggestions from within the NHS and from social care professionals or providers, but anyone can suggest a health and social care technology topic for us to consider through our online topic proposal form. See our reports and guidance for examples of previous topics we have received.
If the suggested topic is not relevant for appraisal, we direct the person who submitted the form (the topic proposer) to appropriate organisations that can support or develop their topic, via our Signposting Group.
If a suggested topic is within our remit, we will then look at whether there is enough available evidence to do an appraisal and whether the topic meets our appraisal selection criteria. These considerations are outlined in a Topic Exploration Report. This report is taken to the Health Technology Wales Assessment Group, and the topic proposer is invited to present. If the Assessment Group decide that the topic is appropriate and meets our selection criteria, it is added to the Health Technology Wales appraisal work programme.
All Topic Explorations are published on our website, under Reports & Guidance, outlining the reasons for accepting or rejecting a topic for the Health Technology Wales work programme.
Assessing the evidence
We collaborate with the topic proposer and experts to develop a protocol for the topic. The protocol covers what is known about the topic so far, the research question that we want to answer and the criteria for selecting studies to include in the appraisal.
Using the protocol, we complete a rapid review (and any other investigations that are needed) of the available evidence. We assess the evidence and draft an Evidence Appraisal Report (EAR). The draft EAR is reviewed by experts and the Health Technology Wales Assessment Group before finalising.
The Health Technology Wales Appraisal Panel appraises the evidence within the EAR and makes sure that the implications for NHS Wales and the social care sector in Wales have been properly considered. The panel includes senior representation from each local health board and partners from social care with delegated authority to issue HTW Guidance. The guidance summarises key evidence and implications for the health and social care technology or model of care and support in Wales.
Once finalised, the EAR and Guidance are published on the Health Technology Wales website and sent out to key stakeholders working within the NHS and social care in Wales. We also share our publications through our social media channels and quarterly newsletters.
Status of HTW guidance
Our guidance is not mandatory, but there is an expectation from Welsh Government that our guidance is adopted. The status of HTW guidance is ‘adopt or justify’. Each local health board and other relevant bodies are expected to report on how they have considered our appraisal and guidance. If they have chosen not to adopt HTW guidance, they are asked to outline their rationale and justify their decision. We will regularly monitor adoption of guidance on non-medicine health and social care technologies. This includes HTW guidance and guidance from other organisations, such as NICE (The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence).