Health technology assessments
Health evidence reviews use a research method called health technology assessment. This research is done to help determine what health care technologies, services, and models of care are suitable and sustainable for a given population.
Health evidence reviews can capture information on effectiveness, safety, cost-effectiveness, real-world practices and budget impact, as well as the ethical, social, legal and policy implications on the health care system.
Improving health care services
Health evidence reviews are used to inform health system decision-makers and improve planning. Reviews provide balanced evidence, critical analysis, and an Alberta perspective to help decision-makers tackle problems in the health care system, and make progress on Alberta’s health care priorities.
Reviews examine how health care services can be delivered better in a certain part of the health care system, or for a specific disease or condition. This is preferred to evaluating individual technologies and services for adoption.
Reviews provide evidence for a health system decision-maker or planner who is willing and able to use the results to make change.
Health evidence review framework
How health evidence review topics are identified
Health care professionals, planners, and stakeholders who need evidence to tackle a health system problem or task should contact the Ministry of Health to request a review.
The Ministry of Health consults planners and decision-makers who are working on the health care system’s priorities to identify problems or challenges that could benefit from a health evidence review.
Since 2018, proposals have been requested that focus on working with stakeholders to provide evidence required to create innovative care models, disease pathways and/or transitions of care.
These proposals are screened by representatives from the Ministry of Health and Alberta Health Services, and then validated by a committee of senior health system leaders.
Assessing existing inefficiencies
Health evidence reviews use peer-reviewed studies, reports, interviews, as well as data collected across the health care system to identify duplication, waste, gaps in care, or areas of low efficiency that could be improved using an evidence-informed approach.
Screening and prioritization for review
Every topic identified is considered to determine if it will benefit from an Alberta health evidence review. The selection process tries to answer the following questions:
- Is the review topic considered high-priority for the Alberta government and health care system?
- Will the review have a wide reaching and or significant impact on how care is delivered?
- Is there pressure for change?
- Is there willingness to change?
- Is there a health system decision-maker who will use review results to affect change?
- What is the likelihood that change will happen?
Health evidence review partners
The Ministry of Health collaborates with these internationally recognized health technology assessments experts to conduct reviews in an arms-length capacity:
- Institute of Health Economics
- University of Alberta, Health Technology and Policy Unit
- University of Calgary, Health Technology Assessment Unit
- Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health
Health evidence review products
Every review is designed to meet the needs of the health system client. Reviews can be customized to provide a range of evidence and information, including:
- systematic reviews of effectiveness and safety
- cost-effectiveness analyses
- budget impact analyses
- real-world evidence
- implementation feasibility assessments
- environmental scans
- policy analyses
The conclusions presented in the reports are solely those of the partner organizations that produced the reports and do not represent the policies or position of the Alberta government or any other agency. Updates are provided when available.
Advice from high-level health care leaders
The Alberta Advisory Committee on Health Technologies provides direction and a broader health system perspective to Alberta’s health evidence reviews.
Members of the committee include senior leaders from the Ministry of Health and Alberta Health Services (co-chairs), as well as senior representatives from the Alberta Medical Association, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, the College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta, and Canada’s Medical Technology Companies.
- advises on whether potential review topics are timely and a good fit for health system priorities
- provides the perspectives of leaders from across the health care system on how best to use review findings to achieve change
Knowledge translation support
The Ministry of Health can help clients communicate review findings to relevant audiences and stakeholders to build support for change. The ministry and its health evidence review partners offer customized reports and summary documents, presentation and publicity materials, educational tools and seminars, and other knowledge translation supports for specific audiences.
Every review is selected, planned, and conducted with careful consideration for whether and how the results can be used to inform improvements in the health care system. Before starting any review, there must be a strong degree of certainty that the review findings can and will be used to affect change.
As part of the health evidence review process, the Ministry of Health and the partner conducting the review work with the client and other health system stakeholders to understand:
- possible outcomes from the review
- how these outcomes could be used to achieve changes in care delivery (possible implementation approaches)
- whether change is feasible
- what impacts this change could have on Albertans and the health care system
If requested, an optimal implementation approach can be proposed and developed using information obtained through evidence gathering, data modelling, health system capacity analysis, and consultation.
Health evidence reviews
Featured health evidence review
Review: Endovascular Therapy for Ischemic Stroke (PDF, 15.1 MB)
- Conducted by – Institute of Health Economics
- Client – Endovascular Therapy Provincial Implementation Working Group
- Objective – To determine how best to provide endovascular therapy for ischemic stroke in Alberta.
- Methodology – Systematic literature reviews, grey literature review, consultation with expert advisory group, economic analysis, and modelling.
- Findings – The optimal model for providing endovascular therapy in Alberta combine two treatment and transportation strategies based on the geographical location of stroke onset.
- Outcome – A new provincial endovascular therapy delivery model was designed to optimize care based on the geographic location of stroke onset.
Ongoing provincial health evidence reviews
Current and ongoing health evidence review reviews are:
- Assisted Peritoneal Dialysis within Alberta
- The Role of Select Diabetes Technologies in the Care Pathway for Insulin-Treated Diabetes
- Strategies to Improve Access to Surgical Care in Alberta
- Designing the Future of Stroke Rehabilitation in Alberta
- Interventions to Decrease Risk Factors associated with Vascular Disease
- The Effectiveness and Cost-Effectiveness of Oncotype Dx and Prosigna Genetic Testing in Early-Stage Breast Cancer
Completed provincial health evidence reviews
Endovascular Therapy For Ischemic Stroke (PDF, 15.2 MB)
Assisted Reproductive Technologies (2016) – Addendum to the 2014 STEP Report
Newborn Blood Spot Screening for galastosemia, tyrosinemia type I, homocystinuria, sickle cell anemia, sickle cell/beta-thalassemia, sickle cell/hemoglobin C disease, and severe combined immunodeficiency (2016) (PDF, 5.1 MB)
Hysteroscopic Tubal Sterilization (2014) (PDF, 1.4 MB)
- Update report: Hysteroscopic Tubal Sterilization (2016) (PDF, 1.2 MB)
Bariatric Treatments for Adult Obesity (2012) (PDF, 2.7 MB)
Insulin Pump Therapy for Type 1 Diabetes (2012) (PDF, 860 KB)
Needle or Blade Fasciotomy versus Radical and Partial Fasciectomies or Collagenase Clostridium Histolyticum for the Treatment of Dupuytren's Contracture: Comparative Efficacy, Safety, and Cost-Effectiveness (2012) (PDF, 177 KB)
Radiofrequency Ablation for Low Back Pain (2012) (PDF, 1.4 MB)
To connect with the Ministry of Health, Health Evidence and Policy unit:
For questions or comments about Alberta health evidence reviews, or if you have a health care delivery project or challenge that requires evidence and data, best practices, or an Alberta-specific solution tailored for optimum outcomes, contact us.
The Health Evidence and Policy unit manages the production of Alberta Health Evidence Reviews. The unit also supports the Alberta Advisory Committee on Health Technologies and works with partners across the health care system to build their capacity to produce and use evidence in decision-making.