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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.

Health Technology Assessment: Choosing Which Treatments Get Funded

Why are some treatments made available to patients while others are not?

Explore how Health Technology Assessment (HTA) informs decisions about whether we should have access to certain treatments. This course is based on the University of Sheffield’s online distance-learning programme, the MSc International Health Technology Assessment.

You can continue to learn about healthcare decision-making in our other online course Measuring and Valuing Health.

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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 secondsWe'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?

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?
  • 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.

When would you like to start?

Who is the course for?

You may work in the medical or pharmaceutical profession or study a subject such as medicine, nursing, healthcare or health economics.

Or perhaps you’re a patient or an interested member of the public who wants to know the story behind the headlines. This course will help you to make an informed contribution to discussions about NHS decisions.

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.

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.”

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.

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