Health Technology Assessment Innovation Laboratory (HTA Lab)

The HTA Lab enables NICE to develop creative solutions to complex problems in health technology assessment.

It offers a ‘safe space’ for creating solutions in collaboration with system partners and stakeholders.

The number, range and complexity of technologies we review has never been greater. The way these technologies are regulated in science and healthcare is also developing rapidly.

This poses a challenge to NICE when we're assessing some products. The pace of innovation can sometimes mean using our existing methods alone might not meet the needs of patients, the public and health and care system partners.

It's our duty to keep ahead of these developments to make sure patients gain rapid access to the newest and most promising treatments.

To address these challenges, we've developed the HTA Lab, which will allow us to:

  • develop technical and policy solutions that allow us to evaluate innovative health technologies
  • make sure that our guidance is useful and useable, particularly for technically complex and disruptive technology.

The HTA Lab aims to create new methods and processes for health technology assessment, taking innovation from the lab and into practice.

Nick Crabb, programme director of scientific affairs at NICE

How does the HTA Lab work?

Using collaborative and innovative approaches, the HTA Lab will help us work with our stakeholders and develop solutions to complex health technology issues.  

HTA Lab uses tools such as the ‘policy sandbox’ to support innovation and co-creation of solutions. The sandbox concept was first pioneered in the financial sector. It was used as a safe environment to test new products, push the boundaries and try out innovative ways of working.

Our use of the sandbox approach builds on previous experience working on the European Horizon 2020 HTx project. For this project, we applied this approach in collaboration with stakeholders from across Europe.

Find out more in a blog from Nick Crabb, programme director of scientific affairs at NICE: A ‘safe space’ for addressing complex health technology assessment challenges.

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Our projects

Virtual wards

Virtual wards (also known as hospital at home) allow patients to get the care they need at home safely and conveniently, rather than being in hospital.

The HTA Lab has contributed to the development of NICE guidance on virtual ward platform technologies for providing virtual wards for people with acute respiratory infections.

The HTA Lab team has also completed a review of the published economic evaluations of virtual wards (Word).

More on NICE’s work to support implementation on virtual wards

Virtual wards enabled by technology: hospital-level care for people in their own home - a video by NHS England.

Rapid entry to managed access (REMA)

As part of NICE work to develop a proportionate approach to technology appraisals, we looked at a new approach to appraising medicines which were highly likely to need a managed access agreement. 

We ran a project to examine the feasibility of developing a process to allow REMA for medicines with uncertain evidence.

Currently, these medicines undergo a full appraisal before being recommended for managed access (MA), and another at the end of the MA period. A more streamlined process for evaluating these medicines can mean more timely access for patients.

The HTA Lab: rapid entry to managed access project report (Word) provides more information on this work and its findings. These will inform further work by NICE in this area.

Disease modifying dementia treatments

New disease modifying dementia treatments (DMDTs) are anticipated to alter disease progression and change the management of Alzheimer’s disease.

To help NICE medicines evaluation team prepare, the HTA Lab is conducting a project to identify the key issues that are likely to emerge during the evaluation of these treatments. This is with the input of patient organisation groups, our partners and international HTA agencies.   

Further detail of this work is included in this first report from the project (PDF).

Methods for the evaluation of diagnostics used in multiple care pathways

The number of AI and genomics-based technologies that can be used in multiple disease areas or at multiple positions in the disease pathway (‘multi-indication' technologies) is increasing.

Evaluating multi-indication technologies is likely to pose a challenge to the current NICE Diagnostics Assessment Programme (DAP) methods and processes.

The HTA Lab has started a project to identify the challenges associated with evaluating multi-indication technologies. This will help us develop practical and pragmatic proposals for future evaluation of these technologies, so that their value is appropriately captured.

Contact us

For more information, please email