Objectives: To describe the first hospital-based health technology assessment (HTA) program in a public hospital in Argentina, and report some clinical, educational, economic and organizational results after 10 years of its implementation.
Methods: A hospital-based HTA program was created in March 2001 at Hospital Garrahan (Buenos Aires, Argentina), a national pediatric facility with a self-managed budget. Its main goal is to promote a rational and evidence-based technologic development. The program consists of HTA reports for technology acquisition, clinical practice guidelines (CPG), capacity building in research and management, and technical support for health services research (HSR). The evaluation cycle comprises: prioritization, evidence synthesis, dissemination and monitoring. We report program performance, comment educational and organizational effects, and discuss unresolved issues and future challenges.
Results: During the first 10 years the program produced 18 HTA reports on drugs (6 = 33 percent), therapeutic (6 = 33 percent), preventive (2 = 11 percent) or diagnostic (2 = 11 percent) procedures and institutional programs (3 = 17 percent). The scope covered effectiveness (12 = 67 percent), safety (10 = 56 percent), budget impact (6 = 33 percent), cost-effectiveness (2 = 11 percent) and organizational impact (3 = 17 percent). Mean time from request to report was 10 months. Eleven pediatric CPGs were submitted to expert consensus and disseminated for full-text Web access. A 1-year course on research and management was completed by 225 professionals in 6 years, and twenty-two projects for HSR were coached.
Conclusions: Our experience shows that an HTA program is both feasible and useful in a public hospital of a developing country. Promotion of hospital-based HTA, professional integration in HTA activities and network collaboration to discuss unresolved issues with colleagues can multiply the benefits and optimize the use of hospital budgets.