Promoting the timely and consistent adoption of new medical technologies

Medtech guidance encourages innovation, by helping the NHS adopt clinically effective and cost-efficient new devices more rapidly and consistently

NICE's medical technologies guidance is designed to help the NHS adopt effective and cost efficient medical devices and diagnostics more rapidly and consistently.

We evaluate a range of medical devices and diagnostic tests. These include devices implanted during surgical procedures, technologies that give greater independence to patients, and diagnostic devices or tests used to detect or monitor medical conditions.

The Medical Technologies Advisory Committee (MTAC) selects the technologies that NICE should produce guidance on. This committee consists of a range of clinicians, scientists, academics and lay people.

Products showing most promise are then routed to the most suitable guidance programme which is usually either Medical Technologies (for which MTAC also appraises the evidence and develops recommendations) or Diagnostics Guidance. Four pieces each of Medical Technologies and Diagnostics Guidance were published in 2013/14 as a result of the selection and routing process.

Among the technologies recommended in medical technologies guidance, was a disposable laryngoscope to help health professionals keep patients’ airways open when unexpected problems occur during procedures.

Published in July 2013, the guidance advises that making the Ambu aScope2 available across care settings is likely to improve outcomes and patient safety, and save money. NICE published an innovative adoption support document alongside this guidance, which was developed by the NICE Health Technologies Adoption Programme, The document provides practical information and advice on implementing NICE’s medical technology guidance on the Ambu aScope2.

Other new or novel products which were recommended in published guidance were:

  • A test to exclude amniotic fluid leak as a cause of vaginal wetness in pregnancy, avoiding the need for a speculum examination and its associated discomforts, and saving money;
  • A stent graft system for treatment of thoracic aortic aneurysms which avoids the need for multiple surgical procedures;
  • A wound debridement pad offering an improvement in the efficiency of wound care.

Introducing the Medtech Innovation Briefings

This year saw MTEP introduce its latest product offering – Medtech Innovation Briefings (MIB). The MIBs provide descriptions of a medical technology, including its likely place in therapy, the costs of using the technology, and a critical review of the strengths and weaknesses of the relevant published evidence.

Their purpose is to provide objective information on device and diagnostic technologies to aid local decision-making by clinicians, managers and procurement professionals. By making this information available, NICE helps to avoid the need for NHS organisations to produce similar information for local use.

A range of novel technologies have already been covered by the briefings, such as a device to cool the brain in patients who have suffered a heart attack, a system for measuring the narrowing of the arteries in people with angina, and a test to diagnose kidney damage.

Professor Carole Longson, Director of the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation at NICE, said: "We hope that our impartial information about innovative devices and diagnostics will help NHS and social care professionals, and buyers and commissioners of services and with their local decision-making.

“The briefings don't make recommendations about providing the technologies - whether or not to use the products described is entirely the choice of local staff. We hope that the briefings will prove useful for colleagues in health and social care and we're interested in any feedback that staff would like to share with us."