Confronted with similar challenges, the United States and the United Kingdom have adopted very different health technology policies. In the United States, the focus has been on technology creation, in particular the funding of basic biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health. This both reflects and reinforces an innovation-first culture in the United States, including in health. By contrast, the United Kingdom has been much more heavily committed to applied research and evaluative research, including health-technology assessment. That is, while U.S. policy has focused on technology creation, U.K. policy has been more oriented toward technology diffusion. This article surveys the sources of these differences. We consider the impacts of institutional, cultural, and other factors that may explain them, and emphasize that it is hard to disentangle the separate effects of those factors. We conclude with a discussion of the difficulties in drawing cross-national lessons in health technology policy.

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