Abstract

A technology assessment is a literature-based research project that seeks to determine whether a medical device, drug, procedure, or biologic is effective or to summarize literature on a given technology. A well-conducted assessment is a form of secondary research that employs the same steps used in primary research studies (ie, well-designed clinical trials). The primary difference is that in technology assessment the investigator does not collect the raw data. Rather, (s)he must use data collected by someone else. Nevertheless, a well-designed assessment, like a well-designed study, employs the scientific method, which is a method designed to combat bias. When there is little available information, such as with new technologies, unbiased examinations can typically show that enthusiasm for that technology is not backed by much data. When there is more information, assessments can not only determine whether a technology is effective, but also how effective it is. Technology assessments can provide busy orthopaedic surgeons (who do not have the time to keep up with and critically evaluate current literature) with succinct information that enables them to rapidly determine what is and what is not known about any given medical technology.

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