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Online course

Health Technology Assessment: Choosing Which Treatments Get Funded

Before new drugs or treatments are adopted, their effectiveness and cost must be assessed. Find out how in this online course.

Free:

  • Access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • No access to course tests
  • No certificate

Upgraded:

  • Unlimited access to the course, for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • Access to course tests
  • A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Find out more

Health Technology Assessment: Choosing Which Treatments Get Funded

Why join the course?

Have you ever wondered why some drugs are made available to patients via healthcare services such as the NHS, while others are not?

In this free online course, we’ll look at how healthcare organisations make decisions about whether we should have access to certain treatments, focussing on a key part of the information used to make these decisions - Health Technology Assessment (HTA).

Explore the processes behind Health Technology Assessment

Over four weeks, we’ll take you through some of the key processes that go into creating a Health Technology Assessment.

We’ll investigate how HTA can help aid decision making, by finding and bringing together a wide variety of evidence about both the effects of treatments and what they cost. We’ll discover how HTA uses sophisticated research methods and techniques, to bring this evidence together in a format that can be used in a variety of health systems around the world.

We’ll look at some of the key processes of HTA in order to answer some key questions about a new treatment, such as:

  • How do we know if the treatment is of benefit?
  • How can we make sense of all the evidence?
  • And how is evidence of the cost of drugs used in HTA?

We’ll also explore how the final HTA report fits within the wider range of information used to make decisions about which treatments to fund.

Learn with HTA experts from The University of Sheffield

The educators for this course are based in the School of Health and Related Research at The University of Sheffield and are experts in this kind of research, so you will be learning from people who are actively involved in HTA and in developing the methods used.

We’ll show you the process using animated videos and interactive exercises, and by looking at an actual completed Health Technology Assessment that went on to inform healthcare decisions in the real world.

Understand why new health technologies are funded

By the end of the course, you’ll be able to explain the process which leads to potential decisions on whether or not a new health technology is adopted and funded by the NHS or another national healthcare system. You’ll be able to make an informed contribution to a discussion about NHS decisions and form your own, knowledgable opinions about the subject.

Whether you’re in the medical or pharmaceutical profession, studying or thinking of studying a subject such as medicine, nursing, healthcare or health economics, or simply an interested member of the public or a patient yourself, this course will give you the story behind the headlines. And you’ll be able to answer the question: how do healthcare systems make decisions about funding new treatments?

You can find out more about some of the themes covered in this course in Claire Beecroft’s post for the FutureLearn blog: “Penny pinchers or NICE people? Why someone’s got to choose which treatments get funded.”

Download video: standard or HD

Skip to 0 minutes and 15 secondsHave you ever wondered why some drugs are made available to patients via healthcare services such as the NHS while others are not? In this course, we'll look at how healthcare organisations make decisions about whether we should have access to treatments, and we'll focus on a key part of the information used in this decision making process - the Health Technology Assessment, or HTA for short.

Skip to 0 minutes and 39 secondsOver five weeks, we'll take you through the processes that go into creating a Health Technology Assessment. We'll investigate how HTA can help aid decision making by finding and bringing together a wide variety of evidence about both the effects of treatments, and what they cost, and their economic impacts. And we'll look at how sophisticated research methods and techniques are used to bring this evidence together in a format that can be used in a variety of health systems around the world. We'll look at some of the key stages in the HTA process in order to answer some questions about a new treatment, such as how do we know if the treatment is of benefit?

Skip to 1 minute and 15 secondsHow can we make sense of all the evidence that's out there? And how is evidence about the cost and economic impacts of drugs used within HTA? Finally, we'll explore how the HTA report fits within the wider range of information used to make decisions about which treatments to fund. The educators for this course are based in the School of Health and Related Research at The University of Sheffield and are experts in this kind of research. So you'll be learning from people who are both actively involved in HTA and in developing the research methods that are used.

Skip to 1 minute and 46 seconds We'll hear from expert reviewers, health economists and researchers as they give insights into how they contribute to a final Health Technology Assessment report that could inform huge decisions about what treatments are available to you and to others. We want to help anyone, regardless of their previous knowledge of the subject, to understand more about HTA. So whether you're a health professional, a carer, a patient, or simply an interested member of the public, the next time you hear a news story reporting that a drug is not going to be made available via health services, you will understand that it's never simply a case of it being too expensive.

What topics will you cover?

In this course we looked at:

  • What health technology assessment is and how it is applied by healthcare decision-makers to inform the choices they make about which drugs and treatments should be made available to patients- this means looking at both the benefits or effects of the treatment, and its costs.
  • The kinds of evidence that can help us to decide whether a treatment is of benefit, and how much of a benefit it gives.
  • The range of evidence types, with a focus on clinical trials, what they can offer, their limitations and why they are particularly important for HTA.
  • The methods used to bring the existing research and evidence about a treatment together, so we can get a clear picture of what benefits the treatment offers. To do this, we looked at a technique called ‘sytematic reviewing’ which combines the evidence into a single report, and uses statistical techniques to bring the data from a number of studies together to create a single estimate of the effects of a treatment.
  • The ways in which the costs of drugs and the economic impacts can be compared with those of existing treatments. To do this we looked at how a specific research technique, economic modelling, is used. We looked at the different kinds of model, their value in HTA and how they are combined with the evidence from our systematic review of the clinical effectiveness of a treatment to produce estimates of costs/benefit. We also looked at the final HTA report, to give a direct insight into the information that decision makers are presented with. We looked at how decision makers use the HTA report, in conjunction with a wider range of information and input, to make a final decision.
  • We finished by briefly looking at how a decision to make a treatment available (or not) impacts on other health services.

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

What will you achieve?

  • Explore the assessment process for a new health technology and how this applies to a potential decision outcome.
  • Explain the process behind decisions about which healthcare treatments are funded to a patient or member of the public.
  • Investigate a health technology assessment (HTA) and understand the evidence presented.
  • Contribute to an informed discussion about whether or not a new health technology is adopted and funded by the NHS, or other national healthcare system.

Who is the course for?

You should have an interest in healthcare decision making and, in particular, the economic aspects that this involves. No particular mathematical skills or previous economics experience are required, though a basic familiarity with healthcare research could be helpful. The course is accessible to anyone with a secondary or high school-level education.

Who will you learn with?

Claire Beecroft

I am an Information Specialist and University Teacher at the School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) at the University of Sheffield.

Who developed the course?

The University of Sheffield is one of the world’s top 100 universities with a reputation for teaching and research excellence.

Buy a personalised, digital and printed certificate and transcript

You can buy a Certificate of Achievement for this course — a personalised certificate and transcript in both digital and printed formats, to prove what you’ve learnt. A Statement of Participation is also available for this course.

Certificate of Achievement + transcript £59.00

Statement of Participation £34.00

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Charges to your account will be made in GBP. Prices in local currency are provided as a convenience and are only an estimate based on current exchange rates.