International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care


When the decision is what to decide: Using evidence inventory reports to focus health technology assessments

Matthew D. Mitchella1, Kendal Williamsa2, Gretchen Kuntza3 and Craig A. Umscheida4

a1 University of Pennsylvania Health System

a2 University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and University of Pennsylvania Health System

a3 University of Pennsylvania

a4 University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and University of Pennsylvania Health System


Objectives: Health systems frequently make decisions regarding acquisition and use of new technologies. It is desirable to base these decisions on clinical evidence, but often these technologies are used for multiple indications and evidence of effectiveness for one indication does not prove effectiveness for all. Here, we describe two examples of evidence inventory reports that were performed for the purposes of identifying how much and what type of published clinical evidence was available for a given technology, and the contexts in which those technologies were studied.

Methods: The evidence inventory reports included literature searches for systematic reviews and health technology assessment (HTA) reports, and systematic searches of the primary literature intended to count and categorize published clinical studies. The reports did not include analysis of the primary literature.

Results: The inventory reports were completed in 3 to 4 days each and were approximately ten pages in length, including references. Reports included tables listing the number of reported studies by specific indication for use, and whether or not there were randomized trials. Reports also summarized findings of existing systematic reviews and HTA reports, when available. Committees used the inventory reports to decide for which indications they wanted a full HTA report.

Conclusions: Evidence inventory reports are a form of rapid HTA that can give decision makers a timely understanding of the available evidence upon which they can base a decision. They can help HTA providers focus subsequent reports on topics that will have the most influence on healthcare decision making.

(Online publication March 30 2011)


No external funds were used in support of this work.