21 January, 2021

The importance of evidence-informed decision making to improve health and social care

A graphic that shows portraits of HTW's leadership and pages from a report

The newly-published Health Technology Wales (HTW) Annual Report explores the areas we’ve worked on during 2020 and reflects on our role as a national health technology assessment (HTA) organisation.

In their introduction of the report, Professor Peter Groves, HTW Chair, and Dr Susan Myles, HTW Director, reflect with their thoughts on a challenging year that forced everyone across the health and social care landscape to think differently.

“The HTW Annual Report describes our work during the last year to improve the quality of health and care in Wales.

There is no escaping the reality that 2020 provided many unforeseen and unprecedented challenges. The role of evidence-informed decision making has never been more important than during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

As you will see in this report, we’re proud of the ways in which we have been able to contribute our health technology assessment (HTA) skills during the COVID-19 pandemic to support key Welsh Government committees and groups in their decision-making, while also collaborating with international HTA organisations.

We temporarily suspended our routine appraisal programme at the start of the pandemic in order to release our NHS colleagues and avoid distracting them at a time of extraordinary pressure. Nonetheless, our evidence appraisal work continued in the background alongside the support we gave to the COVID-19 response. Then, in the summer, we were ready to re-start formulating national HTW Guidance and our Appraisal Panel resumed in a virtual format.

During 2020, we’ve published seven pieces of HTW Guidance to support a strategic approach to the identification, appraisal and adoption of non-medicine health technologies in Wales. The total number of HTW Guidance published since our launch in 2017 is now 17. We estimate that 137,338 people would benefit with full implementation of HTW Guidance to date and the potential for £5,781,686 in cost savings to NHS Wales.

The challenge of functioning remotely and working from home has been met successfully. The HTW team deployed its expertise to make this transition as seamless as possible. We’re grateful to our multi-disciplinary colleagues from peer and partner organisations for their cooperation in adapting to the virtual environment, too.

Engaging with our local, national and international stakeholders has remained a cornerstone of our successes. Together, we’re committed to making a real difference for health and care communities and to the people of Wales. We extend our sincere thanks to everyone who worked and collaborated with us during the last year and we look forward to developing our working relationships further in 2021.”

Click here to read the HTW Annual Report 2020 and learn about our role to improve the identification, appraisal and adoption of non-medicine health technologies.