Objectives: Health technology assessment (HTA) was established in Austria in the 1990s and, since then, it has gained considerable importance. In this study, we aim to analyze whether the HTA reports that have been produced at the Institute for Technology Assessment (ITA) and at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for HTA (LBI-HTA) have had an impact on decision making within the Austrian health care system.
Methods: We selected all reports that were intended for supporting (i) reimbursement/investment or (ii) disinvestment decisions. Eleven full HTA reports and fifty-eight rapid assessments fulfilled the inclusion criteria. We used interview data and administrative data on volumes, tariffs and expenditure of products/services to analyze whether and how reports were in reality used in decision making and what the consequences for health care expenditure and resource distribution have been.
Results: Five full HTA reports and fifty-six rapid technology assessments were used for reimbursement decisions. Four full HTA reports and two rapid assessments were used for disinvestment decisions and resulted in reduced volumes and expenditure. Two full HTA reports showed no impact on decision making. Impact was most evident for hospital technologies.
Conclusions: HTA has played some role in reducing volumes of over-supplied hospital technologies, resulting in reduced expenditure for several hospital providers. Additionally, it has been increasingly included in prospective planning and reimbursement decisions of late, indicating re-distribution of resources toward evidence-based technologies. However, further factors may have influenced the decisions, and the impact could be considerably increased by systematically incorporating HTA into the decision-making process in Austria.