01.09.2012 At first hand

Editorial Dr. med. Adrian Jaggi. Our healthcare system is facing a range of different challenges, for instance the need to continue securing high-quality yet affordable healthcare provision for the entire population against a backdrop of steadily expanding medical options and growing care requirements of an ageing population. Increased cooperation between different healthcare professionals generates innovative approaches to problem-solving, a development in which the rapid availability of diagnostic and therapeutic data is of great importance.

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The cornerstone of efficient and secure data sharing is the digital recording, storage and transmission of medical data. Digitisation in the healthcare system also creates new opportunities for patients: electronic access to data on diseases and treatment improves their health skills and increases their active involvement in diagnostic and treatment-related decision-making.
The concept of "eHealth" applies to a range of IT applications that support, improve and change patient care. These applications are already an integral part of the healthcare systems of many countries. By comparison, Swiss healthcare has been slow to adopt the widespread use of these technologies, for instance data sharing, not only by family doctors, specialists and other healthcare professionals but also by hospitals, pharmacies, laboratories and radiological facilities. This is all the more surprising given that rapid and reliable availability of health-related data not only improves treatment, it can also save lives.
The Swiss eHealth Strategy drawn up jointly by the federal government and the cantons aims to promote the use of IT applications in the healthcare system. Comprehensive technical, legal and organisational conditions and regulations have been defined in the new legal framework for the electronic patient record. This means that the prerequisites for digital recording and storage of medical data exist and are available for sharing them with other involved healthcare professionals. The FOPH is thus making a major contribution towards improving patient safety, the quality of treatment and the efficiency of the healthcare system.

Adrian Jaggi, MD
Head of the Innovation Projects Section, Federal Office of Public Health

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