International Digital Health

Health Data Governance: What’s in it for Switzerland?


How can we ensure that the potential of new digital health technologies is fully exploited to benefit society, and the younger generations in particular? What are the opportunities, challenges and needs that the digital transformation creates within Switzerland, for global healthcare systems and Geneva as the world’s global health capital? The project «Health Data Governance: What’s in it for Switzerland?» addressed these exact questions in 2020 by discussing the challenges related to the use and exchange of health data with 140 stakeholders and interested citizens in innovative workshop-formats and collectively formulating policy recommendations. The results from this national participatory process were published at the end of 2020 in German, French and English.

New digital technologies and AI are on the verge of revolutionizing healthcare nationally and globally. New approaches and tools based on processed health data are changing the way patients are treated and how they interact with healthcare professionals and institutions. Medical and pharmaceutical research and manufacturing is equally heavily impacted. While there is a huge potential, these new technologies also raise legitimate concerns with regards to health data privacy and security.

Technological change has accelerated, but mechanisms for global health data governance have failed to keep pace. The uneven spread of digital and AI capacities across countries and sectors and the fragmentation of data and governance approaches bear the risk to exacerbate existing divides. This governance gap therefore needs to be filled, taking into account the needs of multiple stakeholders within the healthcare systems and society as a whole.

With the adoption of the Swiss Health Foreign Policy 2019-2024 (Gesundheitsaussenpolitik GAP) in May 2019, the Federal Council recognized the potential of digitization and AI for health. The GAP notably highlights the importance of Geneva as the capital of multilateral cooperation in public health and the need for a global health data governance framework to ensure that digital health technologies help progress towards the goal of equitable access to healthcare for all. The GAP also acknowledges the leading role of Switzerland in medical and pharmaceutical innovation.

Using its unique position as the grassroots platform for foreign policy dialogue in Switzerland, and integrating the Swiss youth into the debate, foraus seeks to bring all relevant stakeholders around the table, leveraging the innovative formats poliTisch and Policy Kitchen.

This project has been funded by Fondation Botnar.

This project is implemented by foraus in partnership with Sensor Advice.