E-health in Switzerland: The laborious adoption of the federal law on electronic health records (EHR) and health information exchange (HIE) networks

De Pietro, Carlo and Francetic, Igor (2018) E-health in Switzerland: The laborious adoption of the federal law on electronic health records (EHR) and health information exchange (HIE) networks. Health Policy, 122 (2). pp. 69-74. ISSN 0168-8510

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Abstract

Within the framework of a broader e-health strategy launched a decade ago, in 2015 Switzerland passed a new federal law on patients’ electronic health records (EHR). The reform requires hospitals to adopt interoperable EHRs to facilitate data sharing and cooperation among healthcare providers, ultimately contributing to improvements in quality of care and efficiency in the health system. Adoption is voluntary for ambulatories and private practices, that may however be pushed towards EHRs by patients. The latter have complete discretion in the choice of the health information to share. Moreover, careful attention is given to data security issues. Despite good intentions, the high institutional and organisational fragmentation of the Swiss healthcare system, as well as the lack of full agreement with stakeholders on some critical points of the reform, slowed the process of adoption of the law. In particular, pilot projects made clear that the participation of ambulatories is doomed to be low unless appropriate incentives are put in place. Moreover, most stakeholders point at the strategy proposed to finance technical implementation and management of EHRs as a major drawback. After two years of intense preparatory work, the law entered into force in April 2017.

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