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Objectives: To consider the impact of rapid health technology assessments undertaken as part of a program in a provincial healthcare system in response to urgent requests for advice.
Methods: Review of the development and preparation of 20 rapid assessment reports, communication with decision makers within the healthcare system, and appraisal of data subsequent to preparation of the reports.
Results: Fourteen of the assessments were judged to have had an influence on policy and other decisions, as judged by responses from those who had requested advice. Another four were considered to have provided guidance, while having less immediate influence on decisions, and two others had no apparent impact. Quality of the assessments was considered acceptable, on the basis of literature that subsequently became available and from comments received.
Conclusions: These brief reports are considered to be a useful component of a health technology assessment program. However, they should be regarded as provisional appraisals and followed up with more detailed evaluation where possible.