Last week, we had a workshop with our two master's thesis associates, Prayash Chaudhary and Jiayu Meng. Prayash and Jiayu are currently in their final year of the master's programme Health Economics, Policy and Management at the University of Oslo and the joined European master's programme Health Economics and Management from the University of Bologna (Italy), Erasmus University Rotterdam (the Netherlands), Management Center Innsbruck (Austria) and the University of Oslo (Norway). Prayash is writing his master thesis about the "Cost-effectiveness of using HealthB during primary and secondary prevention of Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS) in Norway" and Jiayu about the "Cost-effectiveness of HealthB for the prevention and treatment of Hypertension in Norway".
These theses are so-called early HTAs, or in other words, early Health Technology Assessments. This type of assessment compares the clinical outcomes (health effects) and costs of an intervention versus the current standard of how care is delivered.
Why are we interested in conducting an HTA?
Performing research on the costs and health effects of new digital solutions (whether it's a medical device or not), is of high importance to create a proof-of-concept for new products. It’s difficult to convince people to believe in new and innovative products without any testing or clinical trials when the product is not yet launched. To persuade the audience, i.e. the payer (this can be any actor from the health system, local hospitals, GP offices or other clinics and (private) investors) that the new intervention is and will be a game changer, early HTAs can help do that.
Besides presenting an early proof of concept, the advantage of an early HTA is that it provides input for the developers of the maximum willingness to pay or, when the tool can be reimbursed, the maximum reimbursable price at which the product is still cost-effective. This implies that it sets a ceiling on maximum development costs and can be vital for the viability of startups.
Suddenly, an early stage company that has not invested a lot of money in R&D as of yet, can show a systematic and hence tangible first proof of concept of their product both in terms of benefit to the patient and expected costs/value for money for the healthcare system and society (depending on the specific focus of the HTA).
Lastly, when the digital solution is an approved medical device, licensing and (national or local) adaptation are two different matters that are often confused. When a product is licensed as a medical device, it does not mean it will be adopted by the system. But we will address this issue more specifically in another blog.
So, a reason to conduct an early HTA is to help answer a key question:
Can you (easily) demonstrate the relative value for money of your product to the buyer (e.g. an investor, hospitals, the government or the individual customer etc.) pre-launch?
In this workshop and brainstorming session, Prayash and Jiayu were showing the progression of their master's thesis to the team and asking for input from everyone from a technical, socioeconomic and medical perspective. They can use this feedback to adjust the input parameters in their mathematical models to a more real-life scenario than they can find through systematic literature search alone. Their theses are expected to be finished at the start of summertime and we will share some preliminary findings and insights with you in the near future in some of our upcoming blogs.