Glasgow, Scotland

“Healthcare Improvement Scotland values the opportunity to contribute to the work of the international health technology assessment community, and to promote robust, evidence-based advice to improve healthcare decision-making and quality of care”.
– Safia Qureshi, Director of Evidence, Healthcare Improvement Scotland


History and Structure

Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) is a not-for-profit health body whose purpose is to support healthcare providers in Scotland to deliver high quality, evidence-based, safe, effective and person centred care; and to scrutinise those services to provide public assurance about the quality and safety of that care.


The work of Healthcare Improvement Scotland directly supports Scottish Government priorities and health care decision making through an integrated cycle of improvement with patient focus and public involvement at the heart of all we do.

Our five key priorities are:

  • Enabling people to make informed decisions about their care and treatment.
  • Helping health and social care organisations to redesign and continuously improve services.
  • Providing evidence and sharing knowledge that enables people to get the best out of the services they use and helps services improve.
  • Providing quality assurance that gives people confidence in the services and supports providers to improve.
  • Making the best use of resources, we aim to ensure every pound invested in our work adds value to the care people receive.

Healthcare Improvement Scotland is the body in Scotland with statutory responsibilities in relation to health technology assessment (HTA); specifically, ‘the evaluation and provision of advice to the health service on the clinical and cost effectiveness of new and existing health technologies including drugs’.

How Healthcare Improvement Scotland works

  • The HTA function within Healthcare Improvement Scotland underpins the evidence element central to the integrated cycle of improvement. Two groups undertake medicine and non-medicine technology assessments respectively:
  • Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC)
  • Scottish Health Technologies Group (SHTG)

Working alongside the two HTA groups are the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) which prepares clinical guidelines, and the Scottish Antimicrobial Prescribing Group (SAPG) which has a national role in antimicrobial stewardship. SMC and SHTG also work in close partnership with the HIS Standards and Indicators Team, the Scottish Patient Safety Programme (SPSP), the Improvement Hub (iHub) and the Scottish Health Council (SHC).

HIS works in partnership with health and social care professionals across the NHS and wider integrated joint health and social care boards, with academic institutions, patients and the public and the Scottish Government to ensure that the findings of technology assessments are fully contextualised to the systems of provision of healthcare within Scotland. Patients and the public are involved in all aspects of the work of the groups, and industry is represented on the main committees and consulted at various stages of the HTA processes.

Brief summaries of the two HTA groups are outlined below:

Scottish Health Technologies Group (SHTG)
SHTG is a national health technology assessment (HTA) agency that provides evidence support and advice to NHSScotland on the use of new and existing health technologies, which are not medicines, and which are likely to have significant implications for people’s care. The work of SHTG supports the planning and decision-making processes in NHS boards. SHTG produce a range of HTA outputs, from more in-depth assessments to rapid reviews and innovative medical technology overviews (IMTOs).

Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC)
SMC is a national agency that provides advice to NHSScotland on the clinical and cost-effectiveness of all newly licensed medicines and also new indications and new formulations of established medicines.

This advice is made available as soon as practical after the launch of the product involved and provides a single source of timeous advice to support the planning and decision making processes in NHS boards.

SMC has a horizon scanning programme which supports financial planning in Health Boards across Scotland through the provision of early intelligence on new medicines in development.

Dissemination Activities

The Healthcare Improvement Scotland website  is a key tool for disseminating information and capturing ideas and feedback. The site includes the work programme, processes, consultation papers and publications of SHTG and SMC. Healthcare Improvement Scotland uses a direct mailing list, social media and networks to disseminate its advice. It also participates in educational initiatives and facilitates workshops and seminars on methodological developments.

Current projects for SHTG and SMC

Details of current work for SHTG and SMC can be found on the HIS website and the SMC website.

Future Plans for SHTG

  • Provide tailored evidence support by adapting range of traditional HTA products to meet the needs of decision makers in Scotland.
  • Work with the relevant agencies in Scotland to create a coordinated innovation pathway for Scotland to help unlock the benefits of innovation HTA.
  • Develop ‘HTA bridges’ to improve two-way communication between SHTG and NHS boards; enabling a more targeted approach to the sharing of HTA products and identifying priority areas for assessment.
  • Increase levels of collaboration with partner HTA agencies to adapt respective evidence review products, to reduce duplication of effort.  

Future plans for SMC

  • Develop assessment processes to address uncertainty arising from early market access e.g. ability to accept on an interim basis until further data are available.
  • Work with the relevant agencies in Scotland to improve systems for monitoring clinical outcomes.
  • Continue to develop approach to appraising medicines for rare conditions.

Agency Information


Country: United Kingdom
Description of population served: National
Population served (mil): 5.1
Current HTA budget (SHTG and SMC) (mil USD): 3.5
Permanent staff (SHTG and SMC): 35
Consultants: 0
Ongoing TA projects: 3-5 SHTG; approximately 6 each month

Contact Information

Director: Edward Clifton
Contact person: Mr. Edward Clifton, Unite Head, SHTG

Director: Anne Lee
Contact person: Anne Lee, Chief Pharmacist, Scottish Medicines Consortium

Healthcare Improvement Scotland
Delta House, 50 West Nile Street
G1 2NP Glasgow, Scotland United Kingdom

Tel: +44 141 241 6998