Rising health care costs, and the recognition that medical technology is a significant contributor to these costs, have provided the stimulus to develop medical technology assessment programmes in the Netherlands. The most important programme in this field is the Investigational Medicine Programme of the Dutch Sick Funds Council. So far, priority setting for evaluation of medical technologies in this programme has mostly been based on the scientific merits of individual research proposals. This research was undertaken to encourage priority setting in health care research concerning both new and existing medical technology based on societal criteria as well. A literature study was performed to identify relevant items for the development of a checklist. The checklist was tested using a random selection of eight research proposals granted in the context of the Investigational Medicine Programme. Results of the reassessment showed that, despite the inclusion of a specific question in the application form focusing on societal aspects of an intervention, this issue is hardly dealt with. In those cases where information is given by investigators, its quality is relatively poor. In an attempt to improve this situation and as a result of our work, the Investigational Medicine Committee has restructured its application form. This article concludes with suggestions to improve the methodology of priority setting in health care research.