“To improve the health and wealth of the nation through research’”
NIHR INAHTA membership is coordinated by NIHR Evaluation Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre (NETSCC), Southampton, UK, and comprises activities undertaken by NETSCC, NIHR Horizon Scanning Research and Intelligence Centre, Birmingham, UK and the NIHR Dissemination Centre, Southampton, UK.
– Lynn Kerridge Chief Executive Officer, NETSCC
History and Structure
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) was created in April 2006, funded by the Department of Health in England: its vision is ‘to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research’. The NIHR is the research arm of the NHS. This large, multifaceted and nationally distributed organisation comprises faculty, research programmes, infrastructure and systems to provide an integrated health research system which represents all publically funded research in the NHS.
The NIHR funds leading-edge scientific research focused on improving quality and patient outcomes, supporting decisions about service investment or disinvestment, and in developing better approaches leading to improved health outcomes. NIHR has eight research programmes and four reviews programmes (Systematic Reviews programme (SRP); Technology Assessment Reviews (TARs); the NIHR Horizon Scanning Research and Intelligence Centre (HSC) and from April 2015 the newly established NIHR Dissemination Centre (DC) aim to improve health and care by providing evidence to inform health and care professionals, NHS managers, patients and the public and where appropriate policy makers.
NETSCC is a coordinating centre managing five NIHR research evaluation programmes on behalf of NIHR: Health Technology Assessment programme (HTA); Health Services and Delivery Research programme (HS&DR); Efficacy Mechanisms and Evaluations programme (EME); Public Health research programme (PHR) and Systematic Reviews Programme which support the development of a knowledge-based health service by helping to commission high quality research on the costs, effectiveness, and broader impact of health technologies. The NIHR Health Technology Assessment programme (HTA) is the largest research evaluation programme, funded by the Department of Health since 1993.
The NIHR Horizon Scanning Research and Intelligence Centre (NIHR HSC) is an early awareness and alert system based at the University of Birmingham that provides advance notice of new and emerging technologies (including changing applications and uses of existing technologies) that may impact on patients and/or health services in the near future.
From April 2015, the new NIHR Dissemination Centre based within the Wessex Institute, University of Southampton will add value to existing UK research outputs by developing tailored research outputs and additional resources for key decision makers in health and care services to increase the uptake of clinical effectiveness and dissemination of research.
NIHR research evaluation programmes managed by NETSCC support the development of a knowledge-based health service by helping to commission high quality research on the costs, effectiveness, and broader impact of health technologies and aim to provide high quality evidence to inform the needs of decision makers, patients and the public.
The NIHR HTA programme’s mission is to help provide high quality evidence to inform NHS decision making. This involves the identification of important NHS knowledge gaps; providing scientific secretariat support and obtaining clinical and professional opinion to prioritise research questions; assisting in the management of the research commissioning process; and making the results available to decision makers in the health service and to patients and the public. The HTA programme has two key characteristics: it is needs-led and it is science-added.
By ‘needs-led’ we mean that the HTA programme is driven by the information needs of those who use, manage, provide care in and develop policy for the NHS. Systems understanding those information needs are therefore central to the programme.
By ‘science-added’, we mean that the HTA programme adds knowledge value at every stage of its processes, ensuring that researchers meet the information needs of the NHS.
The NIHR Horizon Scanning Research and Intelligence Centre aims to provide advance notice to the Department of Health, national health policy makers, national research funders and the wider National Health Service of new and emerging technologies (including changing applications and uses of existing technologies) that need further research, evaluation of clinical and cost impact, or modification of clinical guidelines or guidance.
The NIHR Dissemination Centre aims to add value to existing UK research outputs by developing tailored research outputs and additional resources for key decision makers in health and care services to increase the uptake of clinical effectiveness and dissemination of research.
How we work
The HTA programme has four funding streams:
- Commissioned HTA. The HTA programme runs a cycle that begins with identifying the areas of need by consultation throughout the health service and scrutinising the recommendations of previous research. Topics identified in this way are then prioritised by expert panels. Research based on primary or secondary data sources is commissioned from health service or academic research organisations under each of the priority areas.
- Researcher-led HTA. The clinical evaluation and trials (CET) workstream funds research on topics proposed by researchers. Funding is available for both pragmatic clinical trials and evaluation studies falling within the remit of the HTA programme, with researchers invited to submit outline research proposals on an ongoing basis.
- NIHR Themed Calls. Funding is provided for research (primary, methodological or evidence synthesis) in specific themed areas, with calls for outline proposals on a yearly basis. Recent calls include Antimicrobial resistance 2013; Primary care 2013; Long term conditions in childhood 2014; and to Mesothelioma 2014. http://www.nihr.ac.uk/funding/nihr-themed-research-calls.htm
- Technology Assessment Reviews. Commissioning Technology assessment reviews (including Diagnostic Assessment reviews and Highly Specialised Technology Reviews) from nine contracted independent teams on behalf of National Institute of Care Research (NICE) and other policy customers to support evidence informed policy and practice.
The HTA programme encourages high quality research through a process of active monitoring of on-going projects and rigorous peer-review.
The NIHR HSC undertakes a wide ranging identification process including contacting primary sources such as industry; scanning secondary sources such as the media and the Internet, liaison with experts and expert groups; and tertiary sources such as EuroScan members and other horizon scanners. Once identified, new and emerging technologies pass through a multi-stage filtration and selection process to identify those that would benefit from further evaluation. After collection of relevant information, a short technology briefing or alert is written. The NIHR HSC also produces in-depth reviews to identify new and emerging technologies in specific technology areas or in specific patient groups.
From April 2015 NIHR DC will every week produce several new summaries of research which have been identified as important to clinicians, patients and managers. Some outputs will contain additional commentaries and insights to make the findings more relevant to key people and a range of platforms for dissemination will be used to target this information to the right people at the right time.
The HTA programme has a journal series NIHR Health Technology Assessment (ISSN 13366-5278 -print; ISSN: 2046-4924 -online) to publicise and disseminate the results of its research. The journal’s 2014 impact factor (5.116) ranked in the top ten per cent of medical journals. Executive summaries and reports are available through the website at http://www.journalslibrary.nihr.ac.uk/hta.
The NIHR HSC posts all technology briefings, alerts and reviews onto our website and into the EuroScan and HTA-databases. The NIHR-HSC website includes an RSS facility and links to our twitter feed @OfficialNHSC
Using a range of platforms, the NIHR Dissemination Centre will make it easier for people to get to the evidence they need in the form that is most helpful to them. It will make the most of existing clinical, patient and research networks, key contacts and a range of platforms to get information to the right people at the right time.
Current Projects (A Selection)
NETSCC has actively participated in evaluation activities in JA1 and JA2 work packages to help establish an effective and sustainable European network for HTA (EUnetHTA).
The HTA programme seeks to develop more effective ways to disseminate and communicate the results of research to decision-makers and raise the profile of the programme as part of the NIHR. A particular challenge is linking with other developments in the NHS in order to create synergy with organisations such as the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
Country: United Kingdom
Description of population served: United Kingdom
Population served (mil): 64
Current HTA budget (mil USD): 200 (all NETSCC managed programmes)
Permanent staff: 200
Ongoing TA projects: 1005 (all NETSCC managed programmes)
Director: Lynn Kerridge
Contact person: Dr Sarah Puddicombe
National Institute for Health Research
Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre
University of Southampton
Alpha House, Enterprise Road
Southampton SO16 7NS
Tel: +44 238 0595 605
Fax: +44 238 0595 639
Internet: http://www.hta.ac.uk or http://www.nihr.ac.uk/funding/health-technology-assessment.htm