Interaction between people and technologyThis research group conducts research to determine whether new technologies are effective, safe and efficient, and whether they are in accordance with societal and ethical values.
Gert Jan van der Wilt explains
Health care is about people, but technology often plays an important role. Consequently, people and technology have to work well together. The Health Technology Assessment group (HTA) conducts research to determine whether new technologies are effective, safe and efficient, and whether they are in accordance with societal and ethical values. The Health Technology Assessment group (HTA) conducts research into the effectiveness, safety, efficiency and social acceptability of medical technology. Medical technology includes not only pharmaceuticals, devices and diagnostic techniques, but also palliative care and trauma care.
Q1 Who are the clients?
People and technology have to work well together.
''Our clients include hospitals, for whom we assess treatment methods. The Health Care Insurance Board (CVZ) regularly calls on the HTA to assess the costs of a treatment and the corresponding insurance reimbursements. Professional associations of doctors also consult with the HTA for advice when taking standpoints and establishing guidelines. To analyse our research data, we often work together with colleagues from the Biostatistics group. Of course, we also cooperate intensively with the staff of our clients. For each study, we put together a new team of experts.''
Q2 What are the ethical aspects?
''Besides the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a treatment, HTA also considers the ethical aspects. Is there sufficient societal support for a specific treatment method? Was the human dimension taken sufficiently into account during the development of technological treatment methods? We maintain close contact with the Health Care Insurance Board, which advises the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sports on the insured products and services. This task is twofold: creating room for innovation while at the same time ensuring that health care remains affordable. The challenge is to find an ideal balance between these aspects.''
Q3 What is the range of research?
''HTA conducts a wide range of research; consequently we must have a great deal of in-house knowledge and expertise about aspects such as economics, psychology, ethics, medical biology and statistics. Technology in health care can lead to different questions for different stakeholders. For example, an ear specialist has different questions about a new technology than the parents of a child with hearing problems, while a policy maker from an institute for the deaf has different questions than either the specialist or the parents. The HTA expert plays an important intermediary role between all parties involved in such health care issues.''
Gert Jan van der Wilt
Gert Jan van der Wilt is head of the research group Health Technology Assessment and contact person for technology center Health Economics.
“I took the first step towards establishing the HTA when I was doing my PhD research on neural networks in Amsterdam. At that time, the first publications were appearing on the results of implanting foetal cells in the brains of patients with Parkinson's disease. I wanted to know how the researchers had shown that the intervention was effective, and how they viewed the broader societal aspects of their research. Shortly thereafter, I was given the opportunity to help establish the new HTA group in Nijmegen.”
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