For Roche, the integration of diagnostics, (bio)-pharmaceuticals and big data analysis is an important building block of the company's personalized medicine strategy. But the beneficiaries of these activities form a much larger group.
The close collaboration and the sharing of de-identified data between medical institutions, regulators, healthcare companies and scientists supports basic research, the development of better and more targeted active substances and diagnostics, and the optimization and adaptation of therapies for the benefit of patients all over the world. Similar approaches with a strong focus on big data are also used by other players and will provide new opportunities for healthcare biotechnology companies.
Swiss Personalized Health Network (SPHN)In Switzerland, the Swiss Personalized Health Network (SPHN) has been working since 2017 to promote the development of personalized medicine and personalized health. The result is a national collaboration of unprecedented scale, involving 35 hospitals, research institutions and other organizations.
The main focus until 2020 is on building the necessary infrastructure to enable nationwide use and exchange of health data for research. Funded with CHF 68 million, the SPHN is working on the development of a national health data infrastructure and cutting-edge IT systems (BioMedIT). In the next funding period (2021 – 2024), the network will extend its activities and collaborations, possibly including public-private partnerships.
Challenges for Personalized Healthcare in SwitzerlandWhile the huge potential of personalized healthcare is obvious, several obstacles slow down its development. The digital infrastructure for the collection and aggregation of health data is still only weakly developed.
A major challenge is Switzerland's pronounced regionalism and the sovereignty of the cantonal competencies in the health care sector. This makes collaborations on a national scale difficult.
In fact, a recent international comparison of healthcare digital strategies by the Bertelsmann Foundation (#SmartHealthSystems, 2019) ranks Switzerland 14th out of the 17 evaluated countries for the digital health index.
The index captures national-level healthcare system digitalization on the basis of 34 indicators relating to strategy, technical implementation status, maturity, and the degree to which integrated health-data exchange is actually taking place. For the sub-index - actual use of data - Switzerland is ranked even lower at 16.
Despite several ongoing initiatives, actual progress and implementation is slow. For example, the introduction of the electronic patient record (EPR) system - a personal collection of treatment-related documents - has been plagued by delays and technical difficulties and will be only partially operable in 2020, starting in April.
Obviously, a concerted effort by all stakeholders is required to move Switzerland forward in the field of digital health and personalized healthcare. To take full advantage of new therapies made possible by personalized healthcare approaches, adjustments to the registration process by Swissmedic, the Swiss regulatory authority for therapeutic products, are required.
These should take into account the special properties of personalized medicines that distinguish them from more traditional products; such as the possibility of targeting only small patient groups. Also, new models for pricing and reimbursements for personalized drugs and diagnostic procedures have to be developed.
‘The application of high-powered data analytics ... makes it possible to generate real-world evidence about treatment outcomes, suggesting better treatment options and facilitating clinical trials’ In Switzerland, the Swiss Personalized Health Network (SPHN) has been working since 2017 to promote the development of personalized medicine and personalized health. The result is a national collaboration of unprecedented scale, involving 35 hospitals, research institutions and other organizations.