Multicriteria decision analysis (MCDA) for health technology assessment: The Queensland Health experience

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Howard, Sarah
Scott, Ian A
Ju, Hong
McQueen, Liam
Scuffham, Paul A
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Objectives: In determining whether new health technologies should be funded, health technology assessment (HTA) committees prefer explicit to implicit methods of analysis in enhancing transparency and consistency of decision making. The aim of this study was to develop and pilot a multicriteria decision analysis (MCDA) framework for the Queensland Department of Health HTA program committee, which weighted decision making criteria according to their perceived importance as determined by group consensus. Methods: The criteria used in the MCDA framework were identified by reviewing the five unweighted criteria used in the existing process, consultation with committee members and literature review. Criteria were clearly defined and ordinal categories of lowest to highest preferred were assigned against which technology submissions would be rated. Criteria weights were determined through a discrete choice experiment (DCE) survey of committee members using validated software. Mean weighted technology scores were then used to guide deliberative discussions in determining final funding decisions. Results: The MCDA framework created one additional criterion to the previous five. The criteria and their mean weights identified through the DCE survey were clinical benefit and safety (27.2%), quality of evidence (19.2%), implementation capacity (16.9%), innovation (15.4%), burden of disease and clinical need (13.3%) and societal and ethical values (8.0%). Criterion weights varied considerably between individual committee members, with one criterion having a difference of 36.9% between the highest and lowest preference weights. Following deliberative discussions, all but one of 10 submissions were awarded funding. The submission not supported received the third lowest score through the MCDA model. Conclusions: This pilot application of an MCDA framework, as a complement to committee deliberation, conferred greater transparency and objectivity on HTA assessment of technologies. The framework converted an implicit, unweighted review process to one that is more explicit, flexible in weighting importance and pragmatic. What is known about the topic?: HTA programs involve complex decision-making processes requiring the consideration of multiple criteria. Explicit methods of analysis that use weighted criteria according to their relative importance enhance transparency and consistency of decision making by HTA committees, and are preferred to implicit reviews using unweighted criteria. What does this paper add?: This article describes the development and piloting of an MCDA framework that aims to improve transparency, objectivity and consistency of funding decisions of the Queensland HTA committee. Criteria were identified through a review of current processes, committee discussions and a literature review, and the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) quality of evidence system. Criteria were weighted using a discrete choice experiment involving committee members. Using weighted criteria, mean technology scores were calculated and incorporated into deliberative discussions to determine funding decisions. What are the implications for practitioners?: The MCDA framework described here converted a more implicit, unweighted process to one that was more pragmatic, explicit and flexible in scoring HTA submissions. This framework may be useful to other HTA programs and could be expanded to resource allocation decision

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Australian Health Review
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