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Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis

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Citizens panel contributes to assessment process for Ontario's health technologies

27 Oct 2009

A citizen’s reference panel that is providing input on Ontario’s evidence-based health technology assessment process will convene at McMaster University on Nov. 7 for its third meeting since being established early this year.

The panel, which has been assembled as part of a research project of CHEPA Director Julia Abelson, will be discussing the challenges of combining scientific evidence about existing and novel breast cancer screening modalities with social values judgments about the age at which screening should begin for average- and high-risk women.

The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is funding the two-year pilot project, which is gathering information on incorporating public values into decision-making for the province’s health system.

The panel consists of citizens selected from each of Ontario’s 14 Local Health Integration Network regions who meet to discuss various issues related to the province’s analysis and implementation of health technologies. The panel’s views contribute to the work of the Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS), which oversees the province’s health technology assessment processes, and the arms-length Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee (OHTAC).

The Citizens’ Reference Panel on Health Technologies (CRPHT) has already made an impact. At its inaugural meeting in February, the panel discussed patient information and choice in screening technologies for the early detection of colorectal cancer. Their views on how the public should be informed and choose whether to take part in colorectal cancer screening tests informed OHTAC’s final recommendations to the Ontario health care system regarding the use of these technologies.

At its second meeting held in May, panel members discussed two topics: how best to incorporate societal and ethical values into the health technology assessment process, decisions, and the use of a new technology known as percutaneous aortic valve replacement (PAVR).

The CRPHT is part of a two-year research project, and plans for 2010 call for another two or three meetings during the year.

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