International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care

General Essays

A successful practical application of Coverage with Evidence Development in Australia: Medical Services Advisory Committee interim funding and the PillCam® Capsule Endoscopy Register

Sue P. O'Malleya1, Warwick S. Selbya2 and Ernest Jordana3

a1 Medical Intelligence and Macquarie University

a2 The University of Sydney and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital

a3 Macquarie University


Background: In August 2002, an application for the listing on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) of PillCam® Capsule Endoscopy (formally M2A®) as a diagnostic procedure for obscure gastrointestinal bleeding (OGIB) was made to the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC). As a result of this application, in May 2004 PillCam® Capsule Endoscopy was approved with interim funding until April 2007. This funding was conditional on the collection of Australian data on the long-term safety, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of capsule endoscopy.

Methods: A review was conducted of how the data were collected, the methodological difficulties associated with the collection and analysis of the data, and the outcomes of the data.

Results: The PillCam® Capsule Endoscopy Register ran from 2004 to 2007 and amassed data on 4,099 patients forming the largest database on PillCam® in the world. Based on these data, in November 2007, MSAC recommended that full public funding be supported under the current MBS Item Number 11820 as capsule endoscopy is as safe as and more effective than comparable diagnostic tests. It is the preferred choice of patients and has the potential to reduce the number and cost of previous investigations.

Conclusions: This form of CED proved to be ideally suited to PillCam® Capsule Endoscopy. The PillCam® Capsule Endoscopy Register provided data that made it possible to validate assumptions used in the economic modeling in the assessment carried out for MSAC in response to the application for funding.

Discussion: The use of interim funding requires both risk and cost sharing among the key players: industry, government, the medical profession, and the hospitals. Although the characteristics of PillCam® Capsule Endoscopy proved to be suited to data collection, this may not be the case with other emerging health technologies. If interim funding coupled with data collection is to become an effective mechanism for bridging the evidence gap, work needs to be carried out by health technology assessment agencies to provide guidance on the design of registers so that they cater for the unique characteristics of individual procedures.