The Horizon Scanning Process
Australia and New Zealand Horizon Scanning Network - About Horizon Scanning
Horizon Scanning is a specialised and distinct activity conducted for a different purpose to standard HTA.
Horizon Scanning provides, short, rapidly completed, 'state of play' documents. These provide current information on technologies to alert planners and policy makers of the advent and potential impact in terms of safety and cost, before they are introduced into the health system.
This can then assist planners and policy makers to control and monitor the introduction of new health technologies. It will also assist in the prioritisation and allocation of resources to ensure maximum utilisation of resources at least cost.
The Purposes of Horizon Scanning/Early Warning Systems are to :
- identify new technologies, which potentially have major implications for the health system;
- assist in the control of technologies in the health system;
- rationalize adoption and use of new technologies;
- assess areas of technological change;
- identify under-used technologies;
- identify broader health problems; and
- long term planning, anticipate future needs.
In addition to new and emerging technologies, Horizon Scanning can also provide timely information about changes in the delivery and use of existing technologies.
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Sources of Information
Various sources are used to identify health technologies. These include:
- Information from relevant stakeholders
- Access to Horizon Scanning / Early Warning Systems in other Countries
- Review of Industry literature (manufacturing and pharmaceutical)
- Review of major and specialist medical and scientific journals
- Animal studies
- Human Trials - devices or procedures first tested on humans
- Interest group profiles.
- Experts and expert groups, including professional colleges - formal and informal networks
- Conference papers
- Newspapers and other media sources, including financial reports
- The Internet
- Licensing agencies e.g. TGA, FDA, MDA
- Review on health futures and technology forecasting (time span >10 years)
Limitations of Horizon Scanning BriefsMethodological issues and the relevance or currency of information provided over time are paramount in any assessment carried out in the early horsizon scanning of health technology.
Horizon Scanning forms an integral component of Health Technology Assessment. However it is a specialised and quite distinct activity conducted for an entirely different purpose, and which requires different methodologies to standard Health Technology Assessment. The rapid evolution of technological advances can in some cases overtake the speed at which trials or other reviews are conducted. In many cases, by the time the studies have been completed, the technology may have evolved to a higher level leaving the technology under investigation obsolete and replaced.
As a 'state of play' assessment, an Horizon Scanning Brief in the context of a rapidly evolving technology, can present a trade off between the value of early, uncertain information, versus the value of certain, but late information which may be of limited relevance to decision makers due to implementation of earlier decisions.
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Scope of the HealthPACT Horizon Scanning during 2003 - 2010Health technologies that were considered include devices, diagnostic tests and procedures, and other surgical and non-surgical interventions.
While it is recognised that pharmaceuticals are of major importance in the health system, pharmaceuticals were not included in HealthPACT's horizon scanning activities during this period.
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Page currency, Latest update: 28 October, 2009