Copenhagen has turned on its lights and you can feel its magical Christmas spirit. Opentelehealth and Healthcare Denmark co-organised a two day conferenceon 30 November and 1 December 2022 in the Danish capital to showcase to foreign countries the virtual care study tour and implementation of national telehealth. digitalswitzerland was invited to participate with other important stakeholders from Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, UK and Switzerland to get inspired by the Danish approach to digital health.
Denmark: a nation of health
In 2022, Denmark was the most competitive country in the world and the most digital country in the world¹. It is also the second happiest country globally², right after Finland. Denmark has one of the best and most digital healthcare systems. So many different characteristics make this Nordic country an interesting one to follow and learn from.
Its healthcare system is based on four pillars:
Financed by general taxes
Free and equal access
High degree of decentralisation
With three different levels of responsibility:
The general practitioners (GPs) act as gatekeepers in the healthcare system. In case of problems, they redirect the patients to the specialists of hospitals. It is only in case of emergency that you can directly go to the hospital. 90% of the people are not referred. This avoids long waiting queues at the hospitals and ensures that the right people have quick access to care. Each region has its own triage number which you can call for information; they are responsible to redirect you to the right location based on their availability. The nurses play the most important role in this triage. Next step would be to have AI support the triage.
The Danish healthcare system is expensive within a global comparison; 10% of the country’s GDP is used for healthcare expenditure³. 85% of it is paid by taxes from the citizens: Municipalities pay 41% and regions 59%⁴. Specialist hospitals take up most of the costs⁴. GPs only receive 8% of the costs even though they are responsible for 90% of the cases.
Denmark, like most other countries, is currently facing two key challenges in healthcare: shortage of workforce and increase of chronic diseases in its population.
The nation is way ahead of Switzerland in its digitalisation of its healthcare system. An insightful summary video of the timeline can be seen here. Three key dates are the following in the evolution of its healthcare system: since 1968, citizens have had a unique identifier number, the CPR number. In 2000, EPR was rolled out in Denmark and since 2013, the country has had a national service platform in place.
The Danish healthcare system follows a top-down approach to governance with many solutions integrated within the backbone. This model relies on principles. Everything is digitalised, for example the prescriptions are fully digitalised.
In the future, they need to ensure digital inclusion and increase their digital literacy levels.
Telehealth, a way to bring care home in the future
The WHO has defined telehealth since 1998 as “The delivery of health care services, where distance is a critical factor, by all health care professionals using information and communication technologies for the exchange of valid information for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease and injuries, research and evaluation, and for the continuing education of health care providers, all in the interests of advancing the health of individuals and their communities.”
Nowadays the definition has evolved and we distinguish telehealth in three different ways:
Synchronous telehealth which relies to telehealth done via phone, live video feed, consultation (individual or family conferences) and webinar
Asynchronous telehealth which relies to telehealth done via text messages, e-mail consultation, Interactive websites
Remote monitoring telehealth which enables you to capture your vital signs, blood glucose, etc. from your home
Telehealth has been used for centuries. In 1879, in order to decrease unnecessary medical visits, the phone was used to consult doctors. In 1905, the first tele electrogram took place and in 1925, the first patient was diagnosed via radio. It was only in 2005 that the first synchronous video consultations happened in Denmark for diabetes and heart patients.
Telehealth reduces travel time and high volumes of patients in clinics. This enables healthcare professionals to spend time on the parents who most urgently need their help. The goal shouldn’t be to save money but to provide care for everyone and save staff time.
Synchronous telehealth is already a first positive step, but it doesn’t decrease time to care as the healthcare professionals have to care for the patients in real time. Telehealth, which combines synchronous, asynchronous and remote monitoring are tailored to the individual and helps them to support more patients at the same time. One size doesn’t fit all, it needs to be tailored to each patient’s needs.
Three key factors of telehealth are: staff empowerment, patient safety and patient satisfaction. Staff empowerment is needed, as when you give healthcare professionals more freedom, they will be more effective in their jobs. Patient safety is key and in order to avoid any human error, you need to make sure to have a system with multiple intermediate layers. Patient satisfaction is important and comes from Value based healthcare as it focuses on the quality of care instead of the quantity of care.
A telehealth use case in the North Jutland region of Denmark where 0.6 millions of the Danish population live. They started their pilot in 2011 with COPD patients⁵ as they wanted that wherever they were these patients all had access to the same care – principle of equality of health. They onboarded local representatives in each region and municipalities onto the programme, as they are more connected to the local ecosystem.
The nurses are the pioneers of the programme as they are in direct contact with the patients. They onboard the patients to the programme and check that everything is going well two weeks after their onboarding.
The patients are empowered into active players in their health. They have access to all the components of the device and have all the information to react accordingly to the different measurement results.
Their telehealth kit comprises of (see image below):
Blood pressure monitor
Ipad with the corresponding App (incl. questionnaires) and a tablet pen
Instructions with links to access videos and communities to interact with
It is important that the device is easy to use for an elderly population. OpenTelehealth was responsible for developing the technology behind the solution, ensuring it was easy to use for the patients. The patients send their measurements through once a week. The nurses have access to the measurements of the patients and can react in case the patients have multiple alarming measurements. This plays the role of a triage before sending the patients to the hospital.
This virtual care does not cure patients but it decreases hospitalisation and slows down the deterioration of patients, as well as having a positive impact on mental health. It is therefore targeted at long term patients and not for acute care.
After the successful pilot for COPD patients, Denmark has also started a second pilot for heart failure patients since 2018. The aim is to start a national implementation and include in it the patient satisfaction. The plan will focus on additional diseases such as diabetes type 2, in the upcoming future and focus more on prevention. How to integrate this system to the electronic patient health record will also be a top priority.
Emergence of openness in virtual care
Opentelehealth has developed a solution to support many diseases and devices, unlocking the possibility to customise systems based on client demands. It allows for the monitoring of 45 different vital signs and can easily integrate new measurements if needed with every release. This has the advantage of creating an open solution which can be integrated in different systems.
The original software platform developed as part of a joint project reaching across Denmark. It was funded by the Danish government with the explicit purpose of demonstrating the effectiveness of large-scale remote health management. The project was successfully concluded in 2015, and now serves as the basis for the current nationwide rollout of COPD⁶ home monitoring.
Use cases for virtual care and remote monitoring
TAYS, a successful telehealth implementation in Finland
Sydänsairaala was founded in 2004 as the first heart centre in Finland. It turned into a company in 2010 which is publicly owned. The aim is that by 2025, patients will pay for health value. The telehealth solution has been very beneficial, decreasing waiting time in emergency from 7 days to 29 minutes and decreasing emergency room visits by 42%.
The solution helps patients monitor vital signs from the comfort of their homes. They are helped by nurses which follow them remotely and intervene in case of problems. The system is directly implemented in the electronic patient record.
The company is working in collaboration with Siemens Healthineers for the hardware and Opentelehealth for the software and are financed by public payers.
Doccla, the virtual ward
Doccla, is a startup which creates hassle-free virtual wards, meaning that patients are monitored at home and not only at the hospitals. They are well implemented within the UK and work closely with the NHS. The product is device agnostic, uses Opentelehealth platform and reduces the clinical capacity. Patients are very satisfied with this new solution. The approach is simple: you identify which patients need virtual care and give them the package containing the needed device, the patient is onboarded virtually and the NHS monitors the vital signs with a constant support of patients when needed. This solution is tailored for acute patients which stay on average 7-10 days on the platform and chronic patients which stay multiple months to years. Each hospital has its own champion which can spread the solution locally. The team agrees with each hospital upon a clear decision tree of different actions which need to happen once the patients enter too many alarming measurements.
The Doccla solution has decreased emergency administration by 29%⁸, decrease A&E⁸ attendance by 20%⁹ and decrease the bed days of patients by 30%¹⁰.
Doccla distinguishes itself by offering a support layer with clinical capacity support. It is easily integrated with other devices and electronic health records.
It will focus in the future more on prevention.
Biorithm, Advanced pregnancy care
Biorithm delivers high quality care at low costs to pregnant women to help monitor their pregnancy. This enables patients to have an optimal journey and ensure that the appropriate care is offered. Nurses can monitor 16 people at the same time.The device is easy and adaptable to use. Pregnant women are a highly engaged and proactive group and want to monitor their health.
Cardiolyse for heart attack prediction
80% of cardiovascular diseases can be prevented. Cardiolyse supports ECG analysis. They are device agnostics and no personalised reporting, sharing wellness scores with risk stratification to predict if the patient will have a heart attack. The different devices offer different leads and therefore precision quality. Cardolyse developed an additional layer on top of the Opentelehalth solution. They aim to decrease the remissions by ⅓ and decrease patients’ travel time. They will focus in the future on post-discharge patients, chronic patient monitoring, early screening and prevention and clinical trials.
Lifelight.AI, turning a smartphone into a medical device
Lifelight.AI has the vision to turn every smartphone/tablet into a personal health monitoring device. It will revolutionise the world of healthcare. With one device, you will be able to capture your blood pressure, pulse and breath rate simply by looking into the device’s camera for 40 seconds.
Learning for Switzerland’s future of healthcare
Switzerland has a lot to learn from Denmark in regards to digitalising its healthcare system. These two days were very enriching and enlightening, showing how easily digitalisation can positively disrupt the healthcare system and the future of telehealth. We need to bring learnings to Switzerland and learn from the Nordics’ experience and enable things to finally move within Switzerland.
As illustrated, this will only be possible with the support of all the different players in healthcare systems and with ongoing collaboration. We do not need to reinvent what other countries have already invented but we need to learn from them and leverage their solutions so we can tailor them to our needs.
Zurich, 14 November 2022 – Digitalisation has picked up speed in many industries. But the health sector is lagging far behind. For the digital transformation of the healthcare system to succeed, the needs and fears of the Swiss population must be taken into account.
The results of the study “The digital healthcare system from the perspective of the population” published by digitalswitzerland show that the Swiss population is willing to use a digital healthcare system as long as it offers clear added value – such as better user-friendliness, improved diagnoses and treatments, and lower healthcare costs.
However, for this to happen, the population needs the necessary competencies as well as transparent communication on the part of the healthcare industry in order to create trust.
Zurich, 28 October 2022 – One and a half months, 7 weeks, 49 days: the Swiss Digital Days 2022 and its main formats came to an end on 27 October with a diverse closing evening. The focus of this year’s edition was to empower and support the population on their way into the digital future. Around 350 free events attracted over 100,000 people to Swiss Digital Days, both on-site and online.
On the closing evening, organiser digitalswitzerland and invited guests looked back on the highlights of the seven-week, Switzerland-wide tour and its main formats GreenTech Startup Battle,#herHACK and NextGen Labs. This was followed by a panel with top national and international guests on “The Power of Collective Action”. Finally, the result of the AI art project swissp[AI]nt was unveiled: three animated NFTs that showcase the artworks created by the population.
Find images from the Closing Event and our seven-week programme here.
In partnership with Bilanz, Handelszeitung and PME, we are delighted to celebrate the 100 Digital Shapers who have made a huge contribution to Switzerland’s digital future. Read detailed interviews with all 100 Digital Shapers in this dedicated Bilanz publication.
We also spoke to a selection of winners to find out more about their fascinating work, what motivates them, their greatest challenges and more. Read our quote series.
We extend a warm congratulations to all Shapers and thank them for their efforts and continued resilience and visionary thinking.
This year the following 10 categories covered:
1. The Infrastructure Builders People who contribute to a solid digital infrastructure in order to allow digital change. Includes politicians & administration.
2. The Connectors People who build ecosystems, connect actors and bridge regional gaps for collaborative projects in the digital sphere.
3. The Unicorn Breeders People who are about to build or are of critical importance to build a startup company, which is now valued at over US$1 billion.
4. The Digital Manufacturers Leaders of digital manufacturing companies or technology solution providers and subject-matter experts who are an inspiration for the future of Swiss digital manufacturing.
5. The Avatars People who create or make use of new realities (Augmented, Virtual, Mixed) to enable great things.
6. The AI Masters Masterminds who are revolutionising Artificial Intelligence.
7. The eMedics People who use digital transformation to enhance different aspects of wellbeing, health and medicine.
8. The Foodies People who use digital transformation to reshape our current nutrition towards healthier and more sustainable solutions.
9. The Nature Techies People who use digital transformation for the sake of protecting, monitoring or enhancing nature.
10. The Cybersecurity Guards People who, with protective solutions, regulations, awareness-raising and innovations in cyber space, enable us to move safely and not be victims of cyberattacks.
Discover more about the jury behind selecting our deserving winners here and take a look at past winners and interviews from 2021 and 2020.
*Image source: Matthias Schardt, Kombinatrotweiss.ch / Digital Shapers
In partnership with Bilanz, Handelszeitung and PME, digitialswitzerland is once again celebrating the 100 people changing the face of the Swiss digital landscape. Read the full interviews with all 100 Digital Shapers in their dedicated Bilanz publication. They are also featured in PME on 31 August and Handelszeitung on 1 September.
Driving the force of digital change
The 100 Digital Shapers 2022 are relentless in their pursuit of a digital future that serves all of us. Their continued efforts and commitment inspires and bring those around them on a journey to challenge what’s possible. We are delighted to celebrate and support this annual campaign. We took the opportunity to find out what makes these Shapers tick and what we can learn from their unique way of looking at the world.
And without further ado…let’s hear from some incredibly deserving winners!
People who use digital transformation to reshape our current nutrition towards healthier and more sustainable solutions.
Tobias Gunzenhauser is Co-founder and CEO at of Swiss FoodTech Startup yamo. This company produces plant-based, fresh and organic food for children of all ages. Established in 2016, yamo is one of the current top three FoodTech Scaleups in Switzerland.
Q: What is the biggest learning in your career to date?
A: “The path of a startup entrepreneur is one of constant learning. The moment you stop learning is the moment you stop moving. Naming the one and only ‘biggest’ learning is very difficult. So here’s one of my biggest: it’s all about the culture and the people (and it’s the people defining the culture). As a startup you’re the underdog, building something from nothing. You and your team need to have the mental strength to overcome all the obstacles in your way, always keeping the focus on your vision and having fun along the way.”
People who contribute to a solid digital infrastructure in order to allow digital change. Includes politicians & administration.
Dr. Florian Evéquoz is Dean of the Faculty of Business and Management at the University of Applied Sciences of Western Switzerland (HES-SO). He co-founded datastory.ch – a data science and visualization startup – and Youser – a UX agency. He is involved in various digital projects shaping the social and political landscape of Switzerland.
Q. You have been involved in re-writing the constitution of Valais, which includes digital transformation and our relation with robots. What is your biggest learning from this work?
A: “Writing a Constitution offers a chance to state our long-term common ambitions, taking into account for instance robots and ubiquitous digital technologies. On the one hand, it lets us invent new tools to protect society and institutions from potentially detrimental effects. Individual rights to digital integrity and to an interaction with human beings (not just artificial agents) are responses to these risks. On the other hand, anchoring in the Constitution that government data should be freely available opens new horizons for innovation.”
Leaders of digital manufacturing companies or technology solution providers and subject-matter experts who are an inspiration for the future of Swiss digital manufacturing.
Anna Valente is Head of ARM automation, robotics, and machines laboratory at SUPSI-DTI, Member of Swiss Science Council SSC and an expert at Innosuisse. Her vast fields for expertise count the manufacturing of complex shape components in composite materials for Aerospace, to Design of intelligent and reconfigurable manufacturing systems and robots.
Q. What technologies are you most excited about at the moment?
A: “At ARM laboratory, we’re currently immersed in an extremely challenging activity targeting a new generation of robotic platforms. We call them Deliberative Robots. Deliberative robots adapt their behaviour from cobot to industrial arms as a result of the interaction dynamic with the human operators, especially considering their cognitive and physical loads, as well as the surrounding production context. This powerful capability is instrumental to boost robots’ adoption within typically manual manufacturing contexts, by enhancing productivity while preserving human safety and job quality.”
People who build ecosystems, connect actors and bridge regional gaps for collaborative projects in the digital sphere.
Charlotte Axelsson is Head of the subject area E-Learning @ZHdK. She initiated and co-developed the federal project LeLa, Lern Labor Hochschuldidaktik (Learning Laboratory for Higher Education Didactics), and also launched the international art university exchange “Exchanged”. She is a member of the Koordinationsgremiums Bildungsförderung of the Digitalisierungsinitiative DIZH (Education Funding Coordination Committee), has developed the podcast platform Modcast and is committed to digitality in the educational ecosystem that can be experienced sensually and tenderly.
Q: You are head of the subject area E-Learning at the ZHdK. What is the biggest opportunity or challenge for Switzerland when it comes to this topic?
A: “Digitality is in a transformation itself – to be digital is no longer a separate world, it becomes a part of our DNA: especially in the future generations which are still in primary school. They don’t distinguish between analogue and digital – they learn and think in a different way. We in the subject area E-Learning at ZHdK try to prepare our teaching and learning culture for this transformation. Because we need strong creative, unconventional solutions and strategies for a future-oriented Swiss educational system.“
Masterminds who are revolutionising Artificial Intelligence.
Nadja Braun Binder is Professor of Public Law, University of Basel. Nadja has worked on numerous reports that are shaping global discussion on how to advance the infrastructure for AI. This forward-thinking approach is contributing to a debate about how to use digitisation and AI for the public good.
Q: You are a main author of the TA-SWISS report “Wenn Algorithmen für uns entscheiden: Chancen und Risiken der künstlichen Intelligenz”. What legal framework is needed for AI to thrive?
A: “I think that we do not need a comprehensive “AI law”. But we should examine which existing regulations are applicable to new technologies and methods, for example by taking them into account when interpreting existing norms. In addition, sector-specific regulations will be needed. For example, in the context of public administration to ensure the legitimacy of automated decisions or to create transparency about the use of automated decision-making systems.”
People who create or make use of new realities (Augmented, Virtual, Mixed) to enable great things.
Laetitia Bochud is Director at Virtual Switzerland. Laetitia is structuring the XR industry with professionalism and continued enthusiasm. She is a catalyst for XR development within Switzerland (XR = eXtended Realities, comprising of Augmented, Mixed, Virtual Realities, virtual/immersive/interactive environments “Metaverse”) and abroad, while fostering a qualitative ecosystem.
Q: You work at the crossroads of government and public entities, academic institutions, and the private and associative sectors. What are the biggest challenges that you encounter in your work?
A: “Funding is the main challenge: we seek to gain more financial support for the creation, distribution, and promotion of immersive and/or interactive, narrative formats. The ongoing structuring of the XR industry and its lobbying are key, and we do this at the European and Swiss levels. In Switzerland, public institutions, and their funding instruments, are organized in silos; yet digitization is cross-disciplinary, horizontal. As a result, funding mechanisms can be ill-suited for XR developments. I would also stress the sustainability aspects: the recycling and upcycling of head-mounted displays and other gear, sending them to low-capacity countries for example. I would like to engage in such initiatives.”
People who, with protective solutions, regulations, awareness-raising and innovations in cyber space, enable us to move safely and not be victims of cyberattacks.
Adrian Perrig is Professor at ETH Zurich, Co-Founder Anapaya Systems, SCION next-generation Internet Evangelist. For more than a decade, Adrian has been driving the next generation (secure) internet initiative SCION. His work has the potential of considerable security improvements in the critical infrastructure for digitalisation.
Q: You work with both private industries and governmental bodies in the United States, Western and Eastern Europe. What’s the biggest learning from these negotiations to date?
A: “Everyone struggles with achieving security. At many places, an economic approach is used: so if the economic impact of attacks is less than the cost of a security system, then the security system is not deployed. It was reassuring to experience that in Switzerland, especially financial institutions strive to achieve strong security, even if the cost is higher than the expected damage. This strategy will likely provide higher trust with consumers and market success in the long run.”
People who are about to build or are of critical importance to build a startup company, which is now valued at over US$1 billion.
Wiktor Bourée is CEO & Founder at Technis. This French-Swiss technology company provides a sensor-to-dashboard comprehensive solution for real-time infrastructure performance management. It is the most successful Software as a Service (SaaS) for SMEs in Switzerland.
Q. Your platform is incredibly successful and well adopted by SMEs. How does Technis help them?
Ans: We collect all types of data useful to physical stores (occupancy rate, time in store, receipts, product category, etc.). Our dashboard communicates in real time this processed data and provides useful information to retailers such as the conversion rate, the product engagement, or the customer journey. Our customers can now act directly and in real time on their productivity and customer experience in order to increase the average basket.
Find out more about the jury behind selecting our deserving winners here and take a look at past winners and interviews from 2021 and 2020.
*Image source, header: Matthias Schardt, Kombinatrotweiss.ch / Digital Shapers
digitalswitzerland and Pro Juventute look back at the STEM campaign 2020-2022. A career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) has obvious advantages: incredible potential for personal and professional development, good salaries, and a high chance to enter the job market quickly.
From the perspective of many parents, teachers, employers and the entire Swiss economy, young people choosing a STEM-career is a true no-brainer. But how do young people see it? How do they view themselves in this jungle of future professions, career possibilities and technological upheaval? Are we talking to them in the right way, with the right message and purpose?
Together with Pro Juventute, digitalswitzerland tried to answer these questions. We portrayed 12 role models from different sectors and jobs related to the STEM-field, with the aim of enticing young viewers to choose a career in STEM. From biotechnologists to ICT-professionals all the way to technicians and electricians, we featured them all. Now we are concluding our video campaign called “Future Skills – die Lösung bist du” / “Future Skills – La solution c’est toi (“Future Skills – the Solution is you”) with the aim of raising awareness and enticing young viewers to choose a career in STEM.
We want to take this opportunity to reflect back on some key insights and lessons from our journey…
What did we learn?
1. Show don’t tell
When you want to reach young people, you do not have to explain to them what STEM is; you have to show them, inspire them, tell stories and arouse emotions.
2. Make it relatable
We all prefer stories we can relate to; things that feel or are familiar to us. That applies also to the promotion of STEM-subjects and apprenticeships. If you want to show why being a service technician at Siemens is relatable, talk about the way this job can help to bring down the excessive use of energy in our buildings. If you try to explain the relevance of ICT-professions, show how they can help prevent train accidents, empower women or be of other value to society. The key question remains: what does it have to do with me?
3. Use the power of brevity and emotionality
If you have interesting content, you still need to package it well. It is not enough to have inspiring role models. Your message, if it should reach youth directly, needs to appeal to emotion (visually and content-wise) and have a short but attractive message, to which they can relate. Young people are active and “picky” users – the first few seconds determine if it’s a hit or a miss.
4. Communication channels matter
Don’t forget to entertain! When learning is entertaining, the reach is far greater. Depending on the channel you use, the form of entertainment differs greatly. TikTok and Instagram, prime channels for youth, tend to favour fast-paced and flashy content. Video Mashups with short and punchy messages work best there. Young people often don’t like switching channels. So if you want to reach them on Social Media, make sure all the relevant content is on one platform and is tailored to the audience and the channel. Listicles are effective for Blog formats, more often consumed by parents. On LinkedIn, home of all professionals, content thrives with interesting survey questions or entertaining anecdotes – and don’t forget: those professionals are often parents, too, the most important influence in a child’s career choice.
5. A crucial need is orientation
Among the key needs of youth is orientation. The critical juncture in their lives when they choose a profession is when we can make a difference with good orientation and guidance that doesn’t feel forced and top-down.
6. STEM is versatile and the field is wide open
Another important message and takeaway is that the jobs in STEM are versatile and open to many different personalities and profiles. Increasingly, a more diverse set of young people will enter the STEM-workforce – if we create the right conditions for them by removing barriers and making clear that their skills are valued and needed.
7. Invest time finding and promoting inspiring role models
This one is for the project managers out there: Peers are a great source of orientation and inspiration for young people. However, it is a challenge to find role models that fit all the criteria and that are available and willing to be featured in a campaign video. Creating a message that fits everyone and making the case for STEM is highly context-dependent. Sometimes, topics of gender and inclusion take centre stage. Other times, societal and global challenges like climate change or food security are at the forefront.
8. And remember: “No Man is an island” (John Donne)
Solutions in isolation don’t work. In digitalisation, the crux is that partial solutions have the potential to make the problem of the digital divide worse. Inclusive solutions are the only way forward. Only through a bundled effort can we make an impact that really makes Switzerland future-ready.
Want to know more about the STEM-Campaign and all things related to youth and future skills?
Inspiring stakeholders exchanged around the topic of eHealth at digitalswitzerland’s WEF Breakfast event, held in Davos on 24 May.
Anne Lévy (Director of the Federal Office of Public Health), Philomena Colatrella (CEO of CSS), Conrad Müller (President of the Foundation Pro UKBB (University Children’s Hospital Basel), Christoph Franz (Chairman of the Board of F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG) exchanged on the current challenges facing Switzerland and how to digitalise our healthcare system.
Read our in-depth article for key insights and learnings from our esteemed speakers.
A huge thank you to our panelists and all engaged stakeholders working to advance the future of eHealth in Switzerland.
To find out more about our work in eHealth, contact our topic lead Jade Sternberg.
digitalswitzerland has successfully launched a new website for its 4T-DLT initiative. This new website enables Distributed Ledger Technology enthusiasts to access key information regarding this topic.
Visit today and co-create content to secure Switzerland as a global DLT hub.
To find out more about our work in distributed ledger technology, contact our topic lead Jade Sternberg.
One of Switzerland’s most important current challenges is how to digitalise its healthcare system. It is essential for Switzerland to find a common strategy and vision for it. It has been proven that this can only be solved through a joint collaboration of all ecosystem players. Switzerland must also address how to position the patient at the centre of the ecosystem, enabling them to have an optimised and efficient journey.
In the early lights of Tuesday morning, inspiring stakeholders exchanged around this topic at digitalswitzerland’s WEF Breakfast event, held on 24 May during the WEF 2022. Renowned experts arrived at 7am at the ETH Pavilion in Davos to discuss the different challenges and opportunities that Switzerland is currently facing to digitalise its healthcare system.
Setting the scene
The event was launched with opening speeches from our two hosts, Prof. Dr. Joël Mesot, President of ETH Zurich and Marc Walder, founder of digitalswitzerland. “eHealth is one of the core topics of digitalswitzerland and of every country. Imagine that my mother goes to the doctor and the doctor pushes a button and he knows the health story of my mother: how wonderful would that be and how far are we in our country,” remarked Marc Walder, CEO and founder digitalswitzerland.
Keynote: Federal Office of Public Health’s activities to promote digitalisation (FOPH)
Anne Lévy opened her speech by outlining the government 2030 Health Strategy which priorises digitalisation. “We are actually promoting digitalisation and the use of data in order to reinforce the public’s ability to take informed decisions about their health, improve quality, increase efficiency and improve research through data. Experts all agree, digitalisation gives a multitude of benefits for patients and the health system in general. This can include better health outcomes, better quality of treatment and increase patient involvement in the treatment processes.”
Anne Lévywanted the audience to reflect on the lessons learned from COVID-19 and how FOPH already improved in terms of digitalisation during the pandemic. The government is currently working on three projects to reduce the digitalisation backlog in the healthcare sector:
Implement measures to improve data management by launching interdisciplinary projects
Shaping the future of Electronic patient record (EPR) to collect the data only once and make easily accessible to all stakeholders
Digitalise their own internal processes
She stated that the healthcare system will face high investment costs in the coming year to implement new technologies, leading to more patient empowerment. There are three distinct categories of technologies to mention:
Solutions directly including the patient in healthcare management to overcome hurdles and maintain data privacy
Solutions aimed at professionals and targeting efficiency
Solutions and systems to support all stakeholders and the entire healthcare ecosystem, such as Electronic patient record
Anne Lévy concluded with a strong statement: “We want to create regulatory frameworks that encourage and support innovation. We are very aware that the pace of this development and innovation is extremely high. We need hospitals, doctors, pharmacies, insurers, the pharma industry, researchers, medtech companies and other players in the healthcare sector to work together to establish a useful ecosystem that we can benefit from. And I would be delighted if digitalswitzerland is willing to work with us to reach this goal”.
eHeath panel: how to transition into the digital world?
“eHealth” top-notch panel, moderated by digitalswitzerland’s Managing Director Stefan Metzger, was an insightful exchange between an insurance leader, a pharmaceutical leader and a medical tech-savvy doctor:
Philomena Colatrella, CEO of CSS
Christoph Franz, Chairman of the Board of F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG
Dr. med. Conrad E. Müller, President of the Foundation Pro UKBB (University Children’s Hospital Basel) and former Director Clinic Hirslanden Zurich
Trust in digitalisation and transparent communication on data usage
Philomena Colatrella, CEO of CSS stated, “Trust is the main issue when we talk about digitalisation strategy in the healthcare system because the data is very sensitive. We have to explain WHY and make sure the BENEFITS are given and make this through transparency.” CSS has launched an initiative to start a dialogue with their insurers to make sure they understand how their data is being handled within the insurance. CSS also build up small ecosystems to connect the different stakeholders, such as MyCSS platform to interconnect insurers with the stakeholders and Well, a joint initiative from CSS, medi24, Visiana, Zur Rose Group and Alliance Care, which create an ecosystem that can become scalable at a federal level.
Education in digitalisation
Digitalisation is already present in Switzerland. Doctors have multiple applications but rarely know which ones are really useful.“We have a big gap in education in the hospitals and for the doctors,” said Conrad Müller, President of UKBB. Apart from ETH medical school, there is no education in AI and digitalisation. The big problem identified by our tech- savvy doctor is that there is a lot of data but no place to connect the data together. “We have to educate the systems and not the products.”
In the Digital Pill, co-authored by Christoph Franz, it was stated that “digital literacy is now a prerequisite of health literacy”. Digitalisation happens inside each industry but Switzerland lacks the tools to exchange these data within the overall system. His book shows how the healthcare system could look like if we were already using these tools. “We could connect the dots and make electronic health records become a reality and not only a plan which will be implemented next year and this since ten years. In that sense, it’s something that should open the willingness of the public to want to make this a reality.”
Artificial intelligence key to a robust system focussed the patient
Artificial intelligence is important to set up a robust system which will help the patient be aware of what diagnosis is to follow, what treatment to prioritise and who has the decision power over the shared medical information. As mentioned by Conrad Müller,“We have to build up an Electronic Patient Record, which is empowering the patient and it must be built from the bottom up.”
Digitalisation for exchange of data
According to Christoph Franz, in order to have large data sets of health data for research, we need to hurry. “The first step is that we put them on a PDF and one day, we might even have a standardised format to use these data for example for research in an anonymised way.” It is very important that this data can be easily exchanged in the ecosystem and be stored in the next version of the electronic patient record.
Three reforms which support digitalisation
Philomena Colatrella outlined three key ongoing reforms which will support digitalisation:
Outpatient tariffs structure, Tarmed are being updated to make digital therapies accessible
Digitalisation of alternative insurance models where data exchange is enhanced
Uniformisation of outpatient and inpatient therapies financing
Electronic Patient Record, a solution to renew or to change?
All panelists gave perspectives on the Electronic Patient Record and agreed that there is room for improvement:
In Philomena Colatrella’s opinion the EPR should be used as the nucleus of a data trust centre architecture. This architecture would be made up of different health regions with different providers where data can be exchanged. The government would need to implement a legal framework for this.
Anne Lévy believes that the EPR is highly needed for Switzerland, as for all the other countries which already have one in place. Standardisation needs to be implemented. She stated that EPR should be mandatory for everyone: for patients, doctors, pharmacies etc. and that the solution should come from the government to augment trust. A big issue comes from the law which was put in place 15 years ago. She mentions that, “we have to make laws that are agile, which are flexible enough to adapt to innovation which is not the case for the moment.”
Christoph Franz believes that in order to speed up the process, we need to define minimum standards which need to be followed for the implementation of a digital solution.
For Conrad Müller, it is critical that the law and the Electronic Patient Record are coordinated in order to run the system smoothly.
Denmark: a digital health nation based on a trustful mindset
Denmark is a very digitally-advanced nation in terms of digitalisation of its healthcare system. The big difference between Switzerland and Denmark lies in the population’s attitude towards data usage. Switzerland needs to become more digitally literate. This would induce a population mindset-change and a more positive attitude towards data usage.
A participant from the audience, Soren Mose (Chairman of Twint) also shared his perspective on the difference between both countries as he holds both nationalities. Switzerland should take inspiration from Denmark’s e-ID and digital healthcare system, which would bring more trust and help the country move forward. Swiss citizens also need to realise that the highest threat to data is paper and not digitalisation.
Importance of prevention
“Currently, we don’t have a health care system, we have a “sick care system” and we need to make sure that the incentives are designed to specifically help people live healthier for longer,” mentioned the Chairman of Roche. Prevention will play a key role in the Swiss population which is continuously becoming older. By 2050 more than 1.1 billion people will be over 80 and have multiple comorbidities mentioned Conrad Müller. We need to take action and digitalisation can help.
Working together for a digital healthcare system
At the end of the panel, Stefan Metzger, the Managing director of digitalswitzerland echoed this momentum. He quoted a Swiss Author, Friedrich Dürrenmatt “An individual approach to collective problems will fail”.We have seen this today, we need to all work together to change the ‘illcare system’ to a healthcare system. This is what digitalswitzerland stands for. We will not initiate one single new initiative. Our aim is to bring all the existing initiatives together to foster collaboration and orchestrate it.”
To find out more about our work in eHealth, contact our topic lead Jade Sternberg.
How might a Swiss e-ID ecosystem look like that delivers on its promise?
To begin to answer this question, experts from +10 digitalswitzerland member organisations have developed an initial discussion input. This is a first contribution to the E-ID debate initiated by the directional decision by the federal government.
Join the conversation
Share your thoughts via our Thread in the GitHub Forum, which was set up by the Federal E-ID Project Team.
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