Health technology funding decision-making processes around the world: the same, yet different

Pharmacoeconomics. 2011 Jun;29(6):475-95. doi: 10.2165/11586420-000000000-00000.


All healthcare systems routinely make resource allocation decisions that trade off potential health gains to different patient populations. However, when such trade-offs relate to the introduction of new, promising health technologies, perceived 'winners' and 'losers' are more apparent. In recent years, public scrutiny over such decisions has intensified, raising the need to better understand how they are currently made and how they might be improved. The objective of this paper is to critically review and compare current processes for making health technology funding decisions at the regional, state/provincial and national level in 20 countries. A comprehensive search for published, peer-reviewed and grey literature describing actual national, state/provincial and regional/institutional technology decision-making processes was conducted. Information was extracted by two independent reviewers and tabulated to facilitate qualitative comparative analyses. To identify strengths and weaknesses of processes identified, websites of corresponding organizations were searched for commissioned reviews/evaluations, which were subsequently analysed using standard qualitative methods. A total of 21 national, four provincial/state and six regional/institutional-level processes were found. Although information on each one varied, they could be grouped into four sequential categories: (i) identification of the decision problem; (ii) information inputs; (iii) elements of the decision-making process; and (iv) public accountability and decision implementation. While information requirements of all processes appeared substantial and decision-making factors comprehensive, the way in which they were utilized was often unclear, as were approaches used to incorporate social values or equity arguments into decisions. A comprehensive inventory of approaches to implementing the four main components of all technology funding decision-making processes was compiled, from which areas for future work or research aimed at improving the acceptability of decisions were identified. They include the explication of decision criteria and social values underpinning processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Technology / economics*
  • Decision Making
  • Delivery of Health Care / economics*
  • Humans
  • Resource Allocation / economics*