Catalan_flag  Barcelona, Spain

History and Structure

AQuAS (in English: Agency of Health Quality and Assessment of Catalonia) was established in early 1990’s and is one of the founders members of INAHTA in 1993. A year after AQuAS was established as non-profit public agency of the Ministry of Health of Catalonia and it since then, the agency has been incorporating new functions that reinforce its role of key decision-making support institution with a multidisciplinary approach.

AQuAS’ structure consists of a Management Board, which is the top governance body, an Advisory Council, a Chief Executive Officer, a board of directors and a multidisciplinary technical staff.

Mission

AQuASmission is to generate scientific and relevant knowledge to contribute to the improvement of the quality, safety and sustainability of the healthcare system, with the main goal of supporting the decision making process of the citizens, professionals, researchers, managers and policy makers.

To achieve its aims, AQuAS is committed to conduct four functions:

  • Data analytics and assessment. AQuAS combines different methodologies in its assessments including scientific evidence review and data analytics, with a special focus on the Real World Data (RWD) exploitation, thanks to the granted access to all registries and electronic health record of the Catalan healthcare system.
  • Promoting the transparency in the healthcare and health research system to facilitate policy makers taking decisions and benchmarking, as well as to contribute in improving transparency and accountability of the performance and results of the health care and research systems.
  • Foresee to anticipate the upcoming system challenges by exploring methods, instruments and approaches that might enable the decision makers to address current and future system issues.
  • Involving people and other stakeholders in generating knowledge. By incorporating and engaging stakeholders in the processes, AQuAS aims to maximize the impact of its results and capture those aspects of the system performance that otherwise might remain unknown or unaddressed.

How AQuAS works

Assessment services Area conducts the Health Technology Assessment studies including mHealth and eHealth, and emerging technologies to inform the Catalan Healthcare system policy-makers’ decision. The Public data analytics programme for research and innovation in health (PADRIS) fosters the reuse of RWD for research purposes thus maximizing the data value and its impact on society, whereas Catalan Observatory of the Health System targets all range of stakeholders (managers, health workers, patients, citizens) in its system performance’s analysis, basically exploiting RWD and visualitzation tools. Innovation and Futures focuses in forward-looking approaches and instruments to facilitate the adoption of innovation in the healthcare system such as value-based procurement. Meanwhile, Public engagement Area cumulates and shares expertise on engagement and cocreation methods and metrics all along the value chain. Last, but not least, Health Research Area, assess the health research system’s performance and outcomes with a special focus on the impact assessment and the gender-equality.

the above-mentioned areas tackle the health care and research priorities set up in the top-level strategic plans, such as the Health Plan (2016-2020) or the Research and Innovation in health plan (PERIS  2016-2020); current top priorities that lead policy makers and AQuAS are gender equity, health inequalities, patient-centred system, and value-based and impact-oriented health care and research systems.

Dissemination Activities

  • HTA and policy analysis reports publication. Published works are mainly on public authorities’ demand or part of a mandate from institutions like the Catalan Parliament.
  • Data visualisation tools: AQuAS makes intensive efforts to analyse, use and transform data to support decision-making.
  • Very active management in Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. Social networks are one of the key strategic instruments to reach out different stakeholders and enable their involvement.
  • Active involvement in international networks on different health policy-related topics.
  • Communications in public and restricted events both at local and international level are one of the most frequent activities conducted by AQuAS’ professionals.
  • As part of experts’ committees and other institutional boards, AQuAS has also specific channels to disseminate its expertise and work.

Current Projects (A Selection)

  • Development of Rapid Relative Effectiveness Assessments (REA) as part of the Spanish Network of Agencies for Assessing National Health System Technologies and Performance such as:
    • Spinal cord stimulation in refractory pain
    • Efficacy / effectiveness, safety and efficiency of Da Vinci robotic surgery in urology, gynecology, ophthalmology, digestive and thoracic surgery
    • Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM)
    • Transcutaneous measurement of partial pressure of oxygen for the diagnosis of diabetic arteriopathy
    • Molecular blood amplification techniques applied to rapid etiological diagnosis in suspected sepsis or septic shock
    • Safety, efficiency, effectiveness and efficiency of stereotactic body radiotherapy in lung, prostate and kidney cancers
    • Safety, efficiency, effectiveness and efficiency of functional radiosurgery in epilepsy, Parkinson’s, tremors, trigeminal and glossopharyngeal neuralgia
    • Telehealth and telemedicine: application of video consultation and the latest technologies to health care.
    • Safety, effectiveness and efficiency of glucometers, coagulometers and gasometers
    • Nutritional treatment of MPOC, heart failure and pluripathological  patients with severe protein energy malnutrition
  • Collaborative rapid assessments as part of EUnetHTA (mainly as dedicated reviewers and authoring: Safety, efficiency, effectiveness and efficiency of stereotactic body radiotherapy in lung, prostate and kidney cancers) among other collaborative activities
    Development of the Catalan HTA network to help regional stakeholders in decision-making.
  • Development of eHealth frameworks.
  • Development of visualisation tools (“síntesis”) as clinical decision support tools to provide decision makers at all levels (patients, healthcare workers, managers and budget holders) with reliable and relevant information.

Future Plans

  • To boost the use of real world data in the HTA processes, taking advantage of the large amount and quality of the healthcare data AQuAS has access granted to.
  • To promote the use of early dialogues methodology in medical devices and other medical products than pharmaceuticals.
  • To implement the HTA framework and evaluation tool promoted by AQuAS to mHealth solutions and to develop new ones for Artificial Intelligence
  • To engage patients, citizens and professionals in all the HTA processes.
  • To assess the impact of HTA reports on decision-making

Agency Information

CAHIAQ

Country: Spain
Description of population served: Catalonia Region
Population served (mil): 7
Current HTA budget (mil USD): 2.4
Permanent staff: 54
Consultants: 150
Ongoing TA projects: 11


Contact Information

Director: (Interim) Montserrat Moharra Frances
Contact person: Rosa Maria Vivanco Hidalgo

Agència de Qualitat i Avaluació Sanitàries de Catalunya
Carrer de Roc Boronat, 81-95 (2a planta)
ES-08005 Barcelona Spain

Tel: +34 93 551 3888
Fax: +34 93 551 7510
Internet: http://aquas.gencat.cat
Email: direccio.aquas@gencat.cat; rvivanco@gencat.cat