Associate feature: Driving improvement in non-medicines technologies

Written by Dr Iain Robertson on 28 August 2017 in Inside Politics

Dr Iain Robertson, Chair of the Scottish Health Technologies Group, on the role of medical technologies in keeping Scotland’s population healthy

Image credit: PA

Giving people access to medical technologies is vital in keeping Scotland’s population healthy. Non-medicines technologies (NMTs) cover a wide range of interventions, from blood tests and surgical robots to the impact of single bed rooms in hospitals. One in 25 of us has an implant that helps or supports our health and there are over 500,000 medical devices on the market, with an annual UK spend of £11 billion. ​

Our role is to provide advice to NHSScotland on which technologies offer the best treatment for the people of Scotland. At the Scottish Health Technologies Group (SHTG) we look at five key areas when we produce our advice: clinical effectiveness, safety, cost-effectiveness, patient and social aspects and context. Health and care providers are required to consider our advice during decision making on patient treatment.

The group, which is based within Healthcare Improvement Scotland, is made up of representatives from NHS Boards, clinical and professional networks, academia, National Procurement and Scottish Government, as well as having four volunteer public partners, who represent the views of the Scottish public. Our evidence review process is NICE accredited. SHTG don’t duplicate the work of NICE but regularly uses NICE evidence reviews and adds value by considering how they apply in Scotland.

While NMTs play a crucial role in health and social care, evidence on their effectiveness is typically less well developed than for medicines. We want to improve the use of NMTs in Scotland, and have developed a plan identifying five key challenges: improving awareness of NMTs, working collaboratively with key NMT stakeholders, developing local processes to disseminate and share NMT advice, improving local assessment of NMTs and supporting innovation.

You can find out more about our work at http://www.healthcareimprovementscotland.org/our_work/technologies_and_medicines/shtg.aspx

Dr Iain Robertson is chair of the Scottish Health Technologies Group​

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