The electronic patient record is to become a central pillar of the healthcare system
Bern, 28.06.2023 - The Federal Council wants to further develop the electronic patient record (EPR) through targeted measures, thereby increasing the benefits for patients, doctors, nurses, hospitals, care homes and all other healthcare institutions. In future, the EPR will be used by all healthcare professionals, not only in the in-patient setting but also in doctor's surgeries, pharmacies and outpatient treatment. An EPR will also be opened for every person in Switzerland free of charge. During its session on 28 June 2023, the Federal Council submitted a corresponding revision of the Federal Act on the Electronic Patient Record for consultation.
The electronic patient record is an important tool in healthcare. All treatment-relevant information can be stored in it and accessed at any time, thus helping to significantly improve the quality and safety of medical treatment.
In August 2021, the Federal Council decided to promote the dissemination and use of the EPR through a range of measures, and to revise the Electronic Patient Record Act (EPRA). To enhance the benefits for the population and the healthcare system, the Federal Council is proposing a comprehensive revision of the Federal Act on the Electronic Patient Record. The more easily and securely health data can be accessed, the better. Patients have an overview of their medical data at all times – from lab results to surgical reports to prescriptions.
EPR also in doctor's surgeries and pharmacies
Hospitals, birthing centres and nursing homes are in fact already required to use the EPR and enter all treatment-relevant information in it. In future, use of the EPR will be mandatory throughout the treatment chain – including outpatient service providers such as doctors, pharmacists, physiotherapists and chiropractors. They will have to affiliate with an EPR provider and file information on treatments – along with the relevant data and results – in the EPR. As approved by Parliament, information will be stored decentrally by the certified EPR providers, known as "core communities" or simply "communities". There are currently eight such providers. Accredited certification bodies are responsible for their certification. The cantons must check whether all doctor's surgeries, pharmacies and other outpatient service providers have affiliated with one.
The EPR for everyone – automatically and free of charge
A free EPR will be opened automatically for everyone living in Switzerland with mandatory health or military insurance. Each individual can decide which healthcare professionals have access to the record. The cantons are responsible for people living in their cantonal territory obtaining an EPR. Anyone who does not wish to have a record can submit an objection against opening the EPR with the canton. This opt-out model should ensure that the dissemination and use of the EPR is expanded and that the EPR becomes a central pillar of the healthcare system.
Long-term financing and clear division of responsibility between Confederation and cantons
The revision of the Act will also clarify the allocation of responsibilities between the Confederation and the cantons, as well as the financing of the EPR. In future, the federal government will coordinate and finance the further development of the EPR in terms of content. The cantons will be responsible for financing the core communities. They will ensure that at least one core community is active in their territory.
Strict data protection and data security requirements
Security is the Federal Council's top priority. Data protection and data security must therefore be ensured with the EPR. The highest security standards are already in place for the EPR, and are also legally enforceable since they have been incorporated into legislation. EPR providers must meet strict legal requirements as regards technical and organisational matters and must guarantee security, including during use by EPR users. Strict data protection and data security continue to be guaranteed in the revision of the Act.
Use of data for research purposes
The medical data stored in the EPR are of interest to researchers. The revision of the Act will create the possibility for individuals with an EPR to give express consent to making non-anonymised medical data in their EPR available for research purposes.
The consultation on the draft revision will run until 19 October 2023.
Address for enquiries
Federal Office of Public Health – Media and Communication, +41 58 462 95 05, email@example.com