Thanks to advances in the life sciences and IT, there is an enormous and rapidly growing amount of health-related data available today: Genomics and other -omics data, clinical data from hospitals and primary care, data from biobanks or health data collected by individuals themselves (self-tracking). The field of personalized health aims to use these personal data in order to achieve added value for the population at large.
Personalized medicine exploits personal data to provide optimal medical care for every individual, from prophylaxis to diagnosis, therapy and rehabilitation. The concept of Personalized Health goes beyond this: Scientific findings should not only benefit the individual, but also the population at large, as they will make it possible to recognise health risks at an early stage and develop appropriate health strategies.
The rapidly growing data collection offers great opportunities for medical research.
However, numerous questions about quality, security and property arise along the axis of data collection, storage and analysis and comparability and interoperability appear as the key problems. In order to clarify these questions and make the health data secure and comparable for research, Switzerland is implementing the «Swiss Personalized Health Network» (SPHN).
SPHN will build the infrastructure which connects the involved institutions (University Hospitals, universities, etc.) on the data level. Mandated by the State Secretariat for Education, Research, and Innovation (SERI), the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences (SAMS) bears the organizational, legal and financial responsibility for the establishment of SPHN.
A main focus of the academies
The Swiss Personalized Health Network (SPHN) elucidates some of the issues that arise in the area of personalized health care. The latter however includes numerous other challenges and tasks such as e.g. the introduction of the electronic patient dossier. Against this background, the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences defined «Opportunities and Challenges of Personalized Health» as one of their main focus for the period 2017 – 2020. SAMS has taken the lead and defined the following tasks and fields of action:
- Clarification of ethical and legal issues;
- Description of the research needed;
- Knowledge improvement of health professionals;
- Expansion of genetic counselling offers;
- Securing the sustainability of the health care system;
- Engagement with public.
SAMS manages the thematic platform, consults with affiliates based on their expertise and is in charge of coordinating the various tasks.
SAMS has previously organised various events on the topic of personalised health. The programme and presentations for each conference can be found below.