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eHealth Switzerland

In January 2006, the Federal Council revised the strategy for an information society in Switzerland, originally written in 1998. A new chapter entitled "Health and the health service" was incorporated into the strategy. The primary focus of the Federal Council in this chapter was electronic communication with and between the authorities (e-government) and the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the health system (eHealth).


Because of the decisions taken in connection with the new strategy, the Federal Council commissioned the Federal Department of Home Affairs (DHA) to submit a concept for a national eHealth strategy by the end of 2006, which had to focus on the objectives, areas of involvement, costs, partnerships, procedure and timeframe.

Based on the "eHealth Strategy for Switzerland", the federal government and the cantons have concluded a framework agreement in 2007 for the coordinated implementation of the strategy. In order to succeed, the eHealth strategy must foresee a nationally planned and coordinated approach respecting the needs, requirements and autonomy of each of the 26 cantons. For this purpose, a national coordinating body named "eHealth Suisse" was created by the end of 2007.

In line with Switzerland's decentralised political structure, national projects do not originate from the eHealth coordination office; instead, the office combines and coordinates regional and cantonal approaches.

The objective of improving the efficiency, quality and safety of healthcare provision can only be achieved if the service providers can access information relevant to treatment anywhere and at any time. In other words: better diagnosis and treatment through better information. To achieve this, the data must be recorded in a uniform structure and capable of being exchanged electronically.

The main tasks of "eHealth Suisse" are the following:

•-        Planning the implementation of the eHealth strategy for Switzerland;

•-        Coordinating the introduction of electronic health records;

•-        Achieving joint target orientation of all actors;

•-        Coordinating regional projects;

•-        Defining an architecture and standards;

•-        Encouraging acceptance;

•-        Coordinating the eHealth strategy at national level;

•-        Establishing a common framework;

•-        Establishing international technical und semantic standards (e.g. IHE, HL7 CDA, SNOMED CT);

The new Federal Act on Electronic Patient Record adopted last summer by the Swiss Parliament, defines the legal bases for regulating the processing and handling of medical data in the Federal Act on Electronic Patient Record. This is an important step towards successfully implementing the Swiss eHealth Strategy and further developing the Swiss healthcare system. When the new act comes into force, Swiss hospitals will be obliged to take part in the system within a transitional period of three years, while care homes will have to join the system within five years. For all health professionals working in outpatient care, participation is optional. However, each patient will decide if he or she wants to have an electronic health record. The new act is expected to come into force in spring 2017.  


The Federal Council believes that eHealth can help to ensure that the Swiss population has access to an efficient, safe and cost-effective health service. In January 2013, the Federal Council approved a comprehensive strategy entitled "Gesundheit2020" (Health 2020). One of its objective is to make greater use of eHealth. eHealth tools can improve the quality of healthcare provision and patient safety by giving all healthcare professionals access to relevant information and patients' records at all locations and times. In this way, eHealth contributes to greater efficiency by avoiding duplication of diagnostic procedures.





Switzerland is or was also involved in various European eHealth projects and is monitoring all European activities in interoperability matters with great interest.


Specialist staff:
Last updated on: 20.10.2016

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Further information

Type: PDF

Article published in "Healthcare IT Management", Volume 6/ Issue 3/ 2011; authors: Prof. Christian Lovis, University Hospital of Geneva; Adrian Schmid, head "eHealth Suisse"; Stefan Wyss, collaborator "eHealth Suisse"
09.01.2012 | 160 kb | PDF


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