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Improving patient access to novel medical technologies in Europe.Kearney, Peter; Stokoe, Graham; Breithardt, Gunter; Longson, Carole; Marco, Jean; Morgan, John; Priori, Silvia; Ruether, Alric; Taylor, Rod; Hertog, Michael; et al. (2012-02-03)The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) organized a one-day workshop with clinicians, health economic experts, and health technology appraisal experts to discuss the equity of patient access to novel medical technologies in Europe. Two index technologies were considered: implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) and drug-eluting stents (DES). The use of ICDs range from 35 implants/million population in Portugal to 166 implants/million population in Germany, whereas for implants of DES (as percentage of total stents) it is lowest in Germany at 14% and high in Portugal at 65%. These differences can in part be explained by a lack of structured implementation of guidelines, the direct cost in relation to the overall healthcare budget, and to differences in procedures and models applied by Health Technology Assessment (HTA) agencies in Europe. The workshop participants concluded that physicians need to be involved in a more structured way in HTA and need to become better acquainted with its methods and terminology. Clinical guidelines should be systematically translated, explained, disseminated, updated, and adopted by cardiologists in Europe. Clinically appropriate, consistent and transparent health economic models need to be developed and high-quality international outcome and cost data should be used. A process for funding of a technology should be developed after a positive recommendation from HTA agencies. Both the ESC and the national cardiac societies should build-up health economic expertise and engage more actively in discussions with stakeholders involved in the provision of healthcare.