Background: Patient and public participation in health technology assessment (HTA) of medicines has been cited as an important component of the decision-making structure; however, how to actually achieve meaningful involvement is less understood.
Objectives: Our objectives were to conduct a pilot study to form the basis of future research and to gain insight into how to practically and meaningfully advance patient and public input in HTAs for medicines.
Methods: Semi-structured interviews (n = 13) with informants in Australia (n = 7), Canada (n = 3), and the UK (n = 3) were conducted across agencies and experts (n = 9), as well as patient and advocacy groups (n = 4).
Results: This pilot study identified through structured interviews three areas for further consideration. Advancement area 1 indicates that industry could help bring the patient perspective into the HTA process through incorporating patient experiences early in the drug development process and by including qualitative research on patient experiences in HTA dossiers. Advancement area 2 involves recognizing and supporting the role of patient advocacy groups, and making use of their access to the genuine patient perspective and experience of living with the condition in question. Finally, advancement area 3 is the continuous development of HTA systems and processes to better facilitate involvement, increasing transparency and feedback, exploring new options for reaching patients, and focusing on creating an active and informed health consumer.
Conclusions: The HTA process is becoming increasingly transparent to patients and the public; however, more effort is required to fully engage patients in the decision-making processes for medicine HTAs. This pilot study identified three key areas for further advancement in this field, and recognized a need for further research in the areas of measuring the impact of patient engagement on decision making in medicine HTAs, as well as the best methods to better prepare patient advocacy groups through HTA education and training. These research recommendations will form the basis of a future study with a larger, more comprehensive sample.