EUnetHTA – European network for Health Technology Assessments

Healthcare is arranged differently in each country within the European Union (EU). Nevertheless, there is one thing in common: there is an organisation in each country (such as the National Health Care Institute in the Netherlands) that assesses all new and existing forms of care. This could for instance be assessments of new medicinal products and technical medical devices. An assessment includes looking at whether the care should be reimbursed. The organisations look at whether the care ‘works’, i.e. whether it is effective. In some cases, the organisations also assess whether the care offers a good cost-benefit ratio, i.e. whether it is cost-effective. EUnetHTA was a collaboration involving the National Health Care Institute and comparable organisations in Europe.

HTA assessments in Europe

The EUnetHTA network jointly assessed the effectiveness of medicinal products, medical specialist care and other forms of care. The national assessments can then proceed more efficiently and more quickly than if each country made its judgements about the care individually. As a result, a new form of care with clear added value and a favourable cost-benefit ratio can be made available for patients sooner. This type of evaluation in known as a Health Technology Assessment (HTA). Based on these HTAs, governmental authorities or insurers can decide whether new (or existing) care should be reimbursed or not.

The assessment reports do not contain conclusions about the value (or added value) of the new or existing care for patients when compared against the standard treatment or customary care. There are also no conclusions about whether that care should be seen as eligible for reimbursement. They are therefore not documents that give the opinion of the National Health Care Institute. The complete list of assessments can be found on the EUnetHTA website – assessments.

Coordination of EUnetHTA

The methods that are used in the various EU countries for determining the effectiveness of the HTA assessments are reasonably comparable. As a result, the idea arose several years ago among the EU countries and at the European Commission (EC) of working together more so that the HTAs would be better aligned. Assessment can then proceed more efficiently and more quickly than if each country were to assess the care individually. Until September 2023, the National Health Care Institute of the Netherlands was the general coordinator of EUnetHTA. From 2025 onwards, European legislation will come into effect for the evaluation of healthcare technology. There has therefore been a structural network of what are known as ‘HTA organisations’ since 2023. From 2025 onwards, this network will jointly assess – insofar as this is possible – medicinal products, medical specialist care and other forms of care.

For more information, see the EUnetHTA website.

The National Health Care Institute is currently preparing for new European health technology assessment legislation which is going to be effective from 2025 onwards.