Background: In conjunction with other important movements in contemporary medicine, including evidence-based medicine (EBM), health technology assessment (HTA) has promoted a culture of critical evaluation. Despite this impact, institutional and methodological challenges are associated with HTA. For example, only in recent years has HTA attempted an open dialogue with patients; however, this is normally done by giving them a "seat" at the HTA decision-making table, rather than by more scientific means.
Objectives: The aim of this study was to develop a working definition of patient-based HTA, to identify the current barriers to adopting a patient-based model, and to formulate a vision of how a patient-based HTA could be used to promote patient empowerment and patient-centered care.
Results: In the ideal setting, a patient-based HTA would promote patient knowledge by providing access to information and promoting an informed dialogue between patients and their healthcare professionals. To implement a patient-based HTA, the focus must turn to the patient's issues and incorporate each patient's unique perspective and preferences. Processes must change to increase patient participation in all levels of HTA and aim to promote empowered patients who can make informed decisions.
Conclusions: Present-day HTA is broad and has numerous stakeholders, with none so important as the patient. By asking patient-oriented questions in HTA and better involving patients throughout the entire process, we can easily promote patient empowerment, and as such make patients more capable to play a more active role in healthcare decision making.