The 11th HTAsiaLink Annual Conference

Published Nov 6, 2023

Dr Izzuna Mudla Mohamed Ghazali, HTAsiaLink President 2022-2023, Ku Nurhasni Ku Abdul Rahim, Head Scientific Committee, Local Organizing Committee 11th HTAsiaLink Conference

The 11th HTAsiaLink conference was successfully held from 4th to 7th September 2023 in the Federal Territory of Putrajaya, Malaysia. The conference this year was hosted by the Malaysian Health Technology Assessment Section (MaHTAS), Medical Development Division, Ministry of Health Malaysia in collaboration with University of Science Malaysia. The conference anchored around the theme “Reshaping and reshifting Health Technology Assessment in navigating the future landscape” and covered many important topics in HTA through the pre-conference workshops, three plenary sessions, 69 oral and 30 poster presentations.

HTAsiaLink Conference is a member-only event and this year it has attracted more than 300 participants from 20 countries. The participants were HTA experts, policy makers, HTA researchers, clinicians, academia, and post-graduate students.

Six interesting pre-conference workshops preceded the conference on the 4th of September 2023. In the morning session, the workshop on “Publishing Tips and Hot Topics” was led by Professor Wendy Babidge from the Australian Safety and Efficacy Register of New Interventional Procedures – Surgical (‎ASERNIP-S) who is also the Chief Editor of International Journal for Health Technology in Health Care (IJTAHC). The workshop was also supported by Dr Pwee Keng Ho from Singapore and Dr Magdalena Moshi from ASERNIP-S. The workshop on “Advancing the Role of Equity in Health technology Assessment: Introducing Methodology for Conducting Distributional Cost-effectiveness Analysis (DCEA)” was led by Associate Professor Natalie Cavalho from the Health Economics Unit, Centre for Health Policy, School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne. The speakers in this workshop came from Thailand, Japan, India, and Singapore. The next workshop was on Designing and implementing simulations for HTA using discretely integrated condition event (DICE) simulation. The session was led by the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, National University of Singapore namely Dr Jorgen Moller, Dr Wee Hwee Lin, Celestine Grace Xueting Cai, and Professor Jaime J Caro.

A one-day pre-conference workshop on Patient and Citizen Involvement was organized by MaHTAS in collaboration with Health Technology Assessment International (HTAi) Patient and Citizen Involvement (PCI) Interest Group. Dr Anke-Peggy Holtorf represented HTAi PCI Interest Group. The session was attended by representatives from several patients’ support groups, HTA agency representatives and industries.

In the afternoon, a workshop on Open Innovation Test Beds (OITB): Single entry points supporting innovations on its pathway to the market was organized by the International Health TechScan (i-HTS) represented Dr Hans-Peter Dauben and Dr Maximilian Otte. And finally, a workshop on HTA guideline development was organized by Health Intervention and Technology Assessment Program (HITAP), the National University of Singapore (NUS), and KEMRI Wellcome Trust) in collaboration with HTAi, ISPOR and HTAsiaLink.

The conference participants were welcomed by the Director General of Health Malaysia, Datuk Dr Muhammad Radzi Abu Hassan. The conference was officiated by the Honorable Deputy Minister of Health, Dato Lukanisman Awang Sauni and graced by the Director of Medical Development Division. His Honorable Deputy Minister of Health emphasized on the important role of HTA in decision making in healthcare as we navigate the complexities of the future health care landscapes. The ability to be adaptive to new challenges, exploring innovative approach in assessment as well as accelerating access while maintaining scientific rigor, strengthening assessment for public health intervention are central to achieve optimal health outcome.

Dr Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO Representative and Head of the WHO Country Office to Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam and Singapore, delivered the keynote address. He highlighted the key areas which HTA can be strengthened further which included accelerating innovation, patient-centered approach, data and evidence, global and regional collaboration, equity considerations and planetary health.

The first plenary session on “Accelerating Access of Health Technologies” was moderated by Professor Dr Asrul Akmal Shafie. In light of the pandemic, it has become evident that rapid evaluation is crucial in supporting the decision makers in making resolutions during a crisis. This plenary discussed on key issues to accelerate access while maintaining the scientific rigor. Dr Iñaki Gutierrez-Ibarluzea, the President of iHTS discussed the EU experience in moving towards a joint assessment by regulator-HTA. Dr Anke-Peggy Holtorf from HTAi PCI interest group shared patient perspectives in accelerating access of health technologies and Ms. Tan Ping Tee shared the Agency of Care and Effectiveness, Singapore experiences in involving patients in the HTA process.

Conducting assessments of interventions during crises is challenging for many HTA agencies. In the Plenary 2 on “the Role of HTA in Assessing Public Health Intervention” Professor Mark Jit gave an overview on the use of epidemiological modelling in public health assessment. Dr Izzuna Mudla Mohamed Ghazali presented Malaysia experience in assessment of public health intervention and the development of a framework for public health intervention. Professor Dr Brendon Kearney shared Australia experiences in assessment of public health intervention which focused more on screening and diagnostics. Followed by Mr Tommy Ying Li (Chen) on Taiwan experience in conducting public health intervention assessment. The session was moderated by Associate Professor Dr Natalie Cavalho from University of Melbourne.

The HTA method in assessing cutting-edge and digital health technologies has begun to evolve over the years and was amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with the challenges in assessing innovative health technologies, several innovative tools have been developed to meet up the demand for expedited evaluation. In the Plenary 3 on “Innovative Approaches in Tackling HTA challenges”, Professor Wendy Babidge discussed Australia experience on review of COVID-19 related topics. Professor Sitanshu Sekhar Kar talked about “the Role of adaptive HTA in decision making”, Dr Jooyeon Park shared on nHTA – Framework of digital health technology assessment from Korea and Dr Hanin Farhana Kamaruzaman deliberated on Shifting resources towards higher value technology.

The conference ended with award-giving ceremony to the winners of oral and poster presentations. The 11th HTAsiaLink Local Organizing Committee would like to thank all those who have participated in the conference especially the speakers, HTAsiaLink Board members and the HTAsiaLink secretariat. 

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