The ethics of assessing health technologies

Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 21 (1):101-113 (2000)
Abstract
Health technology assessment (HTA) consists of thesystematic study of the consequences of theintroduction or continued use of the technology in aparticular context, with the explicit objective toarrive at a judgment of the value or merit of thetechnology. Ideally, it is aimed at assessing allaspects of a given technology or group oftechnologies, including non-technical, e.g.socio-ethical, aspects. However, methods for assessingsocio-ethical implications of health technology arerelatively undeveloped and few mechanisms exist totake action based on the results of such evaluations.Still, the examples of cochlear inplants (CI) and other cases illustratethat HTA is not a matter of merely collecting thefacts about a technology. The facts must beplausible and relevant from a particular framework,which is not always shared by different groups. It ishere that socio-ethical aspects are encountered. Ifhealth technology assessment aims to enhance theaccountability of the decision making processregarding funding and use of health technology, it isa major challenge to assessors of health technologiesto deal adequately with existing value pluralism. Inthis respect interactive evaluation may have somethingto offer.
Keywords cochlear implantation  ethics  health technology assessment  interactive evaluation
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