Based at the Institute for Health Transformation, Deakin Health Economic (DHE)’s Health Technology Assessment (HTA) stream primarily assists the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) and Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) in their evaluation of health technologies seeking listing for pharmaceuticals on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) or medical technologies, other than pharmaceuticals, seeking subsidy on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS). More recently, the HTA stream has also undertaken evaluations of submissions for the Agency for Care Effectiveness (ACE), Ministry of Health, Singapore.

The HTA stream is one of the largest streams within DHE, comprising of 10 researchers lead by Associate Professor Silva Zavarsek, and has been involved in the MSAC evaluations since 2007 and in PBAC evaluations since 2012.

The stream members’ diverse backgrounds and expertise is one of their biggest strengths, Associate Professor Zavarsek says.

‘Many in the stream have more than 15 years’ experience in health technology assessment and come from a variety of backgrounds,’ she says.

‘Our stream features a currently practicing pharmacist, a former policeman and a molecular biologist.’

‘A number of members of our team are also graduates of the Master of Health Economics coordinated by Deakin Health Economics.’

As a team, HTA undertakes approximately 22 health technology assessment evaluations each year, most of which are commercial-in-confidence and are not published. Each assessment requires an evaluation of the comparative effectiveness, safety and cost-effectiveness of the medical technology under consideration, as well as the likely overall budgetary impact of publicly subsidising the technology.

Health technology assessments require skills in numerous disciplines, including but not limited to, clinical, statistical, economic and epidemiological. Given the required skill base, training is actively encouraged within the HTA stream, Silva says.

‘Four of our team members recently attended a training course for TreeAge in Melbourne, and three members attended a recent HTA innovations workshop in Sydney.

‘Our members are also actively involved in research and teaching in the Masters program, which includes delivering units in the program as well as supervising Masters students undertaking major and minor projects.

‘We’ve had the pleasure of working with four Masters students to date, all have had outstanding results.’

As an evaluation group, the HTA stream has a long-standing working relationship with the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care, which they look forward to continuing.

‘We look forward to building our relationship with ACE in Singapore as well as our continued involvement in the Masters program and supervision of Masters students,’ Silva says.

HTA stream teams

PBAC evaluation team

  • Sil-ling Pruis
  • Scott Richards-Jones
  • Elise Tan
  • Dylan Coté
  • Francis Ip

MSAC evaluation team

  • Sandra Younie
  • Elena Gospodarevskaya
  • Brandon Nguyen
  • Oxana Chiotelis