Objectives: The aim of this study was to review the history of health technology assessment (HTA) in Italy.
Methods: Founded in 1978, the Italian National Health Service (NHS) has been strongly regionalized mainly after a constitutional reform, which started a devolution process. HTA started in the 1980s at the National Institute of Health and in a few University Hospitals, with a focus on big ticket technology: that process was driven by clinical engineers.
Results: In recent years, HTA is becoming an important tool for decision-making processes at central, regional, and local levels. In particular, the National Agency for Regional Health Services (AGENAS) and five regions (of twenty-one) are strongly committed to develop HTA initiatives connected with the planning process.
Conclusions: At the local level, the hospital-based HTA activity is probably the most important peculiarity of the country and the real driver of the HTA movement.