National Institiue for Health and Clinical Excellence

Annual Review - 2009/2010

This new programme is an important addition to NICE, and will greatly benefit both patients and the NHS as a whole

Bridging the gap between innovation and patient care

In November 2009 NICE launched its Evaluation Pathway Programme for Medical Technologies to boost the uptake of innovative medical devices for treating and diagnosing disease in NHS hospitals.

The programme aims to help groundbreaking new medical technologies to be used sooner and more consistently in the NHS.

The Evaluation Pathway Programme will produce guidance on the use of medical equipment, for example drug delivery systems, body scanners and implants for surgery, that provide new ways for doctors to diagnose and treat illnesses – often more quickly, more easily and less painfully than before. For patients this might mean shorter hospital stays, or even outpatient visits, and for the NHS this could help save money.

A new NICE Medical Technologies Advisory Committee has been set up to choose which devices NICE should evaluate, and to produce medical technologies guidance – a new type of guidance for NICE which will advise the NHS on the use of medical technologies that represent good value. The committee consists of 25 independent specialists from different disciplines including medical scientists, health economists, lay people and representatives from the healthcare industry.

Speaking shortly after the launch of the programme, newly appointed Committee Chair Professor Bruce Campbell said:

“We are hoping to look at technologies that will benefit patients in terms of their comfort, their quality of life, and better outcome, and that will in addition benefit the NHS because they result in greater efficiencies and better value because they use the resources of the NHS better.”

The first NICE Medical Technologies Guidance is expected to be published in late 2010. Keep up to date with developments in the new programme on the NICE website.

A focus on diagnosis

A key part of NICE’s work on medical technologies will be producing guidance on new or improved techniques and tools for diagnosing disease in the first place.

The Evaluation Pathway Programme will refer technologies for detecting disease – such as blood or urine tests, scans or imaging techniques – to NICE’s newly created Diagnostics Assessment Programme. This new programme, supported by an independent Diagnostics Advisory Committee, will produce guidance to make sure the NHS is able to adopt clinically and cost-effective tests more rapidly and consistently.

Professor Adrian Newland, Chair of the Diagnostics Advisory Committee, said: “This new programme is an important addition to NICE, and will greatly benefit both patients and the NHS as a whole...I look forward to working closely with our partners in the NHS and the diagnostics industry in making sure that the guidance we produce on these technologies is based on the best evidence of clinical and cost effectiveness, and will have a positive impact on patient care.”

The Diagnostics Assessment Programme is currently carrying out a pilot project looking at non-invasive diagnostic assessment tools to detect liver fibrosis in patients with suspected alcohol-related liver disease. The pilot is expected to conclude in November 2010.

Find out more about the development of the Diagnostics Assessment Programme on the NICE website.