HISTORY OF THETA
In 2007, the Toronto Health Economics and Technology Assessment (THETA) collaborative was established at the University of Toronto with funding from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care (MOHLTC). The mandate of the multi-disciplinary collaborative was to build a centre of expertise in health technology assessment (HTA), provide practical, evidence-informed decision support to the Medical Advisory Secretariat of the MOHLTC, and build HTA capacity in Ontario.
THETA has grown rapidly and now has 41 investigators, 22 collaborators, 7 graduate students and 26 staff members. We provide valuable decision support to the Government of Ontario by conducting expert field evaluations relevant to current issues in health care policy, and by advising the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care by sharing policy relevant research findings and by supervising three analysts who are seconded to Health Quality Ontario.
Early on, THETA established a reputation as a leader in the development of decision analytic models. It is one of the few institutes in the world capitalizing on the potential of administrative data for use in decision modeling for HTA and works closely with the Institute for Clinical and Evaluative Sciences (ICES). Decision analytic models developed by THETA, as well as other contributions to HTA methods, are often transferable to other jurisdictions. To maximize our impact in the global HTA community, we publish research in peer-reviewed journals and regularly conduct knowledge translation activities that engage experts from around the world.
To build HTA capacity locally and contribute to the development of HTA science globally, THETA has focused on becoming a hub of knowledge translation in Canada. A seminar series, THETA Rounds, brings Canadian and international HTA experts to Toronto on a biweekly basis. In 2008, THETA held its first symposium, an annual event that now attracts speakers and attendees to discuss HTA science related to a topic of policy significance. In 2010, an annual Knowledge to Policy day was established to bring together researchers, decision makers and health care professionals for in-depth discussion of the practical implications of HTA research in a particular clinical area.
In response to an identified need among decision makers, students and academic researchers for basic training in interpretation of HTA evidence, THETA has established a three-day annual summer institute with a curriculum covering the three pillars of HTA: clinical evidence, economic evidence, and considerations of the ethical and social implications of technology. The institute has been received positively by the Ontario HTA community and has attracted attendees from other jurisdictions. Having been recognized as a leader in HTA training, THETA was invited to offer an additional HTA institute in China in 2011.
By producing high quality research, making innovative contributions to HTA methods and engaging in extensive knowledge translation activities, THETA is earning a reputation as a leader in HTA science. This in turn has led to further opportunities to make an impact through collaborative research and knowledge translation. In 2011, an agreement was reached with the China Health Economics Institute that will lead to an exchange of scholars and students, as well as collaboration on future grants.
In 2012, THETA’s founding director, Dr. Murray Krahn, received a major five-year award from the federal government through the Canada Foundation for Innovation New Initiatives Fund. The award will allow Dr. Krahn and colleagues at THETA to establish the Centre for the Evaluation of Technological Innovation (CETI).
CETI will be a world-leading centre of expertise in the emerging field of early health technology assessment, and be one of only a few centres in the world pioneering a comprehensive model of early HTA that addresses the twin challenges of innovation and sustainability. By working with industry developers and government officials earlier in the development process, CETI will facilitate the development of new drugs and technologies. It will ultimately lead to an improved pipeline, shaping how products and innovations are developed, how they become licensed, and how they are eventually purchased by and incorporated into health care systems. CETI will bring together more than 35 investigators and 20 PhD students to focus on the emerging field of early health technology assessment, complementing ongoing research and knowledge translation activities and extending THETA’s expertise into a promising new field of research.
CETI and other recent initiatives represent an expansion of THETA’s capacity for designing, implementing and evaluating clinical epidemiology research. To build on its successful track record with field evaluations, THETA has established expertise in other areas of clinical science, particularly clinical trials. In 2012, Dr. Valeria Rac, a clinician-researcher who has won many investigator awards for clinical trials, was recruited as Director of Clinical Research. The enhancement of THETA's clinical research capacity and the continued involvement of ethics and social science experts in our multi-disciplinary research will allow us to keep on making innovations in HTA science, adding value to the policy process while enhancing our profile as a leading contributor to the development of HTA methods.