Objectives: The European Network for Health Technology Assessment (EUnetHTA) was established in 2006 and comprises over eighty organizations from thirty European countries. In its fifth project phase (Joint Action 3), EUnetHTA set up a quality management system (QMS) to improve the efficiency and standardization of joint work. This article presents EUnetHTA's new QMS and outlines experiences and challenges during its implementation.
Methods: Several working groups defined processes and methods to support assessment teams in creating high-quality assessment reports. Existing guidelines, templates, and tools were refined and missing parts were newly created and integrated into the new QMS framework. EUnetHTA has contributed to Health Technology Assessment (HTA) capacity building through training and knowledge sharing. Continuous evaluation helped to identify gaps and shortcomings in processes and structures.
Results: Based on a common quality management concept and defined development and revision procedures, twenty-seven partner organizations jointly developed and maintained around forty standard operating procedures and other components of the QMS. All outputs were incorporated into a web-based platform, the EUnetHTA Companion Guide, which was launched in May 2018. Concerted efforts of working groups were required to ensure consistency and avoid duplication.
Conclusions: With the establishment of a QMS for jointly produced assessment reports, EUnetHTA has taken a significant step toward a sustainable model for scientific and technical collaboration within European HTA. However, the definition of processes and methods meeting the numerous requirements of healthcare systems across Europe remains an ongoing and challenging task.
Keywords: Cross-border health care; EUnetHTA; Health Technology Assessment; Methodological guidelines; Quality management.