Objectives: The aim of this study was to present the experience of a Canadian hospital-based health technology assessment (HTA) unit that performed the traditional functions of the HTA process along with many other activities to facilitate the choice of smart pumps.
Methods: A rapid literature review was initiated, but little evidence was found. Moreover, the evidence provided was too far from our hospital context. To help our decision makers, we offered them a list of various services based on the skills of our HTA unit staff.
Results: To involve our HTA unit in the choice of the new smart pumps led to a strong collaboration between hospital services. After a rapid review on smart pumps, we proceeded to establish the clinical needs, followed by an evaluation of technical features. To ascertain clinical needs, we participated in the establishment of a conformity list for the tender, a failure and mode-effect analysis, an audit on the use of actual smart pumps, and simulation exercises with nurses and doctors to evaluate the ease of use and ergonomics. With regard to technical tests, these were mainly conducted to identify potential dysfunction and to assess the efficiency of the pump. This experience with smart pumps was useful for evidence-based procurement and led to the formulation of a nine-step process to guide future work.
Conclusions: HTA units and agencies are faced with rapid development of new technologies that may not be supported by sufficient amount of pertinent published evidence. Under these circumstances, approaches other than evidence-based selection might provide useful information. Because these activities may be different from those related to classic HTA, this widens the scope of what can be done in HTA to support decision making.