Switzerland's Electronic Patient Record (EPR) is a collection of personal documents containing a patient’s health information. The patient determines who can see which documents and when. Via a secure internet connection, the information stored in the EPR is accessible at any time to patients and their healthcare professionals who have been given access rights. The EPR provides a new way of securely exchanging information between patients and their healthcare professionals. The EPR is the foundation for the future of a secure, high-quality, efficient Swiss healthcare system.
A national project
The Electronic Patient Record (EPR) is comparable to the Electronic Health Record that has been or is being rolled out in several countries in Europe and throughout the world. Like other national solutions, one of the key features of the EPR is that patients can access and manage it. This distinguishes it from the electronic medical records kept by doctors’ practices and hospitals. The EPR is based on internationally recognised technical and semantic standards such as IHE (FHIR), HL7 and SNOMED.
The Confederation and Cantons updated Switzerland’s eHealth Strategy in 2018 in a bid to counteract isolated standalone solutions with non-compatible electronic medical records. The aim is to link up all the actors in the healthcare system so that patients’ healthcare data can be used all along their treatment chain.
The Federal Act on the EPR
The aim of the EPR is set out in the Federal Act on the Electronic Patient Record (EPRA): “The aim of the electronic patient record is to strengthen the quality of medical treatment, improve treatment processes, increase patient safety, enhance the efficiency of the healthcare system, and promote the health literacy of patients.”
Under EPRA, acute care hospitals, psychiatric clinics, rehabilitation centres, nursing homes, birthing centres and, from 2022, newly licensed medical practices are required to adopt the EPR. These healthcare professionals are also required to store important health information in the EPR as soon as their patients have opened one. For all other healthcare professionals, participation in the EPR system is voluntary. This applies to, for example, independent physicians licensed before 2022, pharmacists, Spitex providers or physiotherapists.
Everyone in Switzerland can voluntarily open an EPR. And even though it’s called a “patient record”, people who are healthy can open one too.
A decentralised project
The electronic patient record (EPR) is a merger of individual autonomous projects, whereby healthcare professionals and their organisations form a
technical and organisational group. These groups are known as “EPR communities”.
In some of these communities, patients can open a personal EPR. Such communities are called “core communities”. Communities and core communities are organised locally in the care regions, for example within a canton or across several cantons. All healthcare professionals and their organisations can connect here, for example hospitals, nursing homes, doctor’s surgeries, pharmacies or Spitex services.
Certified core communities:
The official website
The official EPR website is designed for the public and healthcare professionals. It contains general information on the EPR, how it works, what the benefits are, data security and the process of opening an EPR.
The website is available in the three official languages of Switzerland. Some information is also available in English and Romansh. Brief information can be obtained in migrant community languages as PDF brochures and flyers.
Additional information is available in German, French and Italian for practice and hospital IT managers (PIS and CIS), health app developers and healthcare institution managers.