Description and technical characteristics of technology


Jaana Isojärvi

Last updated: 4 October 2022

What's new in this update

No new research relevant to the chapter was identified during the October 2022 update.


This domain describes the technology (or a sequence of technologies) and its technical characteristics, i.e. when it was developed and introduced, for what purpose(s); who will use the technology, in what manner, for what condition(s), and at what level of health care. Material requirements for the premises, equipment and staff are described, as are any specific training and information requirements. The regulatory status of the technology should be listed, where applicable. The issues in this domain need to be described in sufficient detail to differentiate the technology from its comparators. Terms and concepts should be used in a manner that allows those unfamiliar with the technology to get an overall understanding of how it functions and how it can be used. It is important to distinguish between scientifically proven versus suspected mechanisms of action. Important terms should be defined, and a glossary or a list of product names provided. The section may include pictures, diagrams, videos, or other visual material, in order to facilitate understanding for persons who are not experts in the field. The issues contained in this domain are related to the four main topics: (1) training and information needed to use the technology; (2) features of the technology; (3) investments and tools required to use the technology and (4) regulatory status. (1)

Sources to search

The source of information will depend on the location of a technology within its product life cycle (1).

  • Review articles and textbooks can be helpful for finding information about the history and characteristics of established technology.

  • Health sciences databases (e.g. MEDLINE, Embase, The Cochrane Library, CRD databases, Cinahl, BIOSIS, PsycInfo)

  • Social sciences databases (e.g. Sociological Abstracts, Social Care Online, ASSIA)

  • General science publishers' databases (e.g. ScienceDirect, Ebsco Academic Search Elite, PubMed Central, BioMed Central)

  • Other databases (e.g. ERIC, Joanna Briggs Institute, WHO, OECD)

  • Ongoing research databases (e.g., EunetHTA POP Database, Prospero)

  • Horizon scanning databases (e.g. Euroscan)

  • Grey literature (e.g. OAIster, Dissertation Abstracts)

  • Registers and statistics (e.g. disease registers, national screening registers, pharmaceutical registers, routinely collected statistics and administrative data)

  • Websites (e.g. patient associations, manufacturers, regulatory institutions)

  • Other sources (e.g. market research reports, industry, expert opinions, national and regional guidelines, norms and regulations, handsearching)

Designing search strategies

Gathering descriptive information does not necessarily imply a systematic literature search. However, for the transparency of HTA the approaches and sources of information should be documented. If a systematic literature search is performed, the basic principles of systematic review methodology should be followed. (1)

Reference list

How to cite this chapter:

Isojarvi J. Description and technical characteristics of technology. Last updated 4 October 2022. In: SuRe Info: Summarized Research in Information Retrieval for HTA. Available from:

Copyright: the authors