Digital health in Switzerland

What you need to know about digital health in Switzerland

Learn about digital health, its history, benefits and applications, and why many digital health companies set up their headquarters in Switzerland.

We from the Basel Area Business & Innovation team provide regular updates on the future of health. Stay in the loop and sign up to our healthcare innovation newsletter.

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What is digital health?

Digital health is any healthcare application or solution that uses software or a combination of software and hardware to solve a health challenge.

An example from the healthtech niche: Kaia uses your phone’s camera combined with AI to give you movement instructions at home for MSK (musculoskeletal) care.

Digital health is an umbrella term for many fields. Some are mobile health apps, electronic health records, wearable devices with sensors, telemedicine and personalized medicine.

See how Kaia works

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A brief history of digital health…

Every industry profits from advancing technology

The first documented telemedicine treatment took place as early as 1897. During a telephone consultation with a doctor, a child was diagnosed with croup. The viral infection of the respiratory tract manifests itself by a characteristic barking cough.

Since then, in addition to technologies developed specifically for medicine, advances from other industries have been adopted wherever possible. Healthcare, as every other industry, profits from advancing technology:

When we started harvesting steam for energy, we started powering factories and trains. Microchips are in almost every device now, from toasters to cars and smartphones. All our devices are connected wirelessly. Healthcare is no exception.

Microscopes to analyze blood samples, x-rays to see inside the body, radio waves to transmit data between the various machines around a patient’s bed. These applications in healthcare were made possible by new tech.

But technological progress has been going slower than in other industries. Why?

Because healthcare is all about ethics and adhering to strict standards and norms to safeguard lives and safety. That means strict regulations, slow approvals, many players involved and the need for a lot of financing.

Now, healthcare is catching up

We’ve seen a rapid acceleration of development in the digital health space in the last few years. Especially with COVID, hurdles have been softened, funding is more accessible than ever and constraints like limited physical interaction or the shortage of healthcare personnel have become a fertile ground for innovation.

This comes with the understanding that digital health is the way to serve patients’ needs better, quicker and at less cost than ever before.

Through our participation in the DayOne Accelerator we have gained invaluable knowledge which we have been able to apply to our own business. It gave us a safe space in which to grow our ideas and investment pitch. The support and input we received from both the accelerator coaches and the rest of the cohort has really helped us to shape the future direction of our business

Emily BridgesCOO and co-founder IBDrelief

…and a look into its future

Digital transformation is high up on the agenda of most life sciences companies.

The regulatory environment is changing rapidly, accelerating the digital health trend. We’re also seeing a much larger number of early-stage investments than just four years ago.

Let’s look at Roche and Novartis as an example, the two biggest life sciences companies in Europe.

One of Roche’s top priorities is personalized healthcare. The goal of personalized healthcare is to more effectively screen, diagnose and treat the right people at the right time with the right method.

Novartis uses artificial intelligence to make sense of huge amounts of health data that could never be interpreted by humans alone.

With the further removal of regulatory barriers and increased investments and collaboration, we’ll see an even faster acceleration from major and minor players in digital health.

What are the benefits of digital health?

The prime goal of healthcare is to prevent, diagnose and treat disease and disability to maintain or improve the quality of people’s life.

The digital transformation aids healthcare companies in this endeavour.

The main benefits of digital health are:

  • Saving time.
  • Cutting cost.
  • Improving accuracy.
  • Improving accessibility.

Providing an opportunity to people to take their health back into their own hands.

Consider this example

My chest hurts for the third time this week as I lay down to sleep. I get worried. Google tells me I might have a heart attack — or just acid reflux.

Morning comes, and I fix a doctor’s appointment. After a long drive and a series of uncomfortable tests, the doctor tells me the pain is probably caused by high blood pressure. If that’s not it, I should stop by a week later.

She writes me a prescription to get the appropriate medicine. I have trouble finding the prescription at the pharmacy and remember leaving the piece of paper in my car.

I get the prescription, buy my medicine, go home, send the receipt to my insurance and start the cure.

How would it look if we applied digital health solutions to this health challenge?

My chest hurts for the third time this week as I lay down to sleep. I launch the telemedicine app and connect with a doctor within a few minutes.

He tells me to put on my medical bracelet and swallow a smart pill. Both use sensors to gather data on my body. The data is wirelessly transmitted to my digital health records in a shared database.

An AI analyzes the data and suggests some causes for my pain to the doctor. The AI also rules out many diseases based on the vast amount of gathered data and my existing health record.

The doctor agrees with the AI’s diagnosis of high blood pressure, clicks a button on his screen, and tells me to go to sleep. I can collect the medicine tomorrow in any pharmacy near me.

In the morning, I go to the pharmacy, show my health insurance and ID card. My prescription pops up on the pharmacist’s computer. The insurance already paid for it.

I grab the medicine, go home and start the cure.

Three examples of digital health saving lives

Digital health is important in every aspect of healthcare.
Here are three examples of digital health that already maintain or improve our quality of life:
Health Monitoring icon
Prevention

Livongo for Hypertension provides you with a blood pressure monitor that records blood pressure readings in the Livongo mobile app along with personalized tips, and nutrition, stress and exercise information to help you manage your blood pressure.

Data Science icon
Diagnosis

Holmusk combines a leading behavioral health database with AI-powered analytics to diagnose and treat mental health issues quickly and properly.

Medical tech icon
Treatment

Medgate is Europe’s largest telemedicine center. A team of 130 doctors is available 24/7 via phone or video chat for all your health questions and treatment.

The Basel Area is the perfect gateway for European expansion for digital health startups. What we are finding here is a vibrant ecosystem of many startups as well as established companies who give us a gateway into Europe and even across the world.

Stefan Suter
Head of Holmusk Europe
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Digital health in Switzerland

According to Galen Growth, Switzerland is Europe’s fifth-largest digital health market.

source: H1 2021 Report: Europe Digital Health Ecosystem Key Trends

And the market is far from saturated.

Companies worldwide choose Switzerland for their headquarters because of its easy regulations, vast funding opportunities and market diversity.

If you launch a product or service successfully in Switzerland, chances are it works in Italy, France and Germany. That’s especially important for the highly consumer-focused industry that is digital health.

The proximity to major players in the life sciences also plays an important role.

You can’t talk about Switzerland without talking about the fact that all biopharma companies have their headquarters here. All the business that’s going to be done for a healthcare company’s growth will in any case be done in Switzerland

Lucas ScherdelDirector Healthcare Innovation - DayOne

The Basel Area: Europe’s most innovative digital health ecosystem

Innovation and progress only happen with collaboration

A digital health ecosystem is an infrastructure optimized for developing and launching digital health solutions. In the perfect digital health ecosystem, all parties pull on the same string:

 

  • Companies
  • Workers
  • Consumers
  • Educational institutes
  • Authorities

The healthcare industry is deeply tied to Switzerland, making it a great place to build a company and source talent. Especially in Basel, almost everyone works for a healthcare or pharma company.

Lucas Scherdel
Director Healthcare Innovation – DayOne

Seven reasons why the Basel Area is a prime example of a functioning digital health ecosystem

As the region’s innovation promotion agency, Basel Area Business & Innovation offers consultation and connections to help companies, entrepreneurs, and startups launch and grow innovative ventures. The DayOne Accelerator, as an example, has expanded its offerings and is supporting startups and companies that specialize in the fields of prevention, diagnostics and treatment, no matter where they are located.

We provide introductions and help you build your network, we host events and workshops, and we help you get access to resources from funding to mentoring, accelerator programs, and collaborative workspaces.

Being part of the right ecosystem helps digital health companies grow rapidly and effectively.
Want to know more? Check out our infographic about Europ’s digital health hub.
Infographic
Read more about Europe’s leading healthcare hub.
Read the article

New opportunities for digital health talent in Switzerland

A working digital health ecosystem means more and more digital health companies will set up in Switzerland, bringing many job opportunities to the area.

All scaling digital health businesses in Switzerland are looking to fill positions specifically in: Business development and marketing.

They need people who understand the digital health market with all its participants’ needs and wants. Above all, Basel has the highest number of healthcare marketing professionals of anywhere in Europe.

Building the right relationships is the key to success in digital health.

Digital health jobs of the future

The digital transformation of healthcare will spawn a whole new generation of jobs.
Two primary examples of digital health jobs that will soon be in high demand are virtual healthcare workers and bioinformaticians.

Opening its doors in 2015, the Mercy Virtual Care Center was the world’s first telemedicine facility. A hospital without beds.

As a patient, you can get treatment for various diseases without ever setting foot into the Mercy Virtual hospital. Instead, you get diagnosed and treated remotely. It’s a new way of receiving — and giving — healthcare. The staff at Mercy Virtual is extensively trained in all aspects of telemedicine.

Mercy Virtual may have been first, but virtual healthcare will most likely be prevalent in the future.

We’re gathering healthcare data at an unprecedented rate

Total amount of global healthcare data generated in 2013 and a projection for 2020 in exabytes
2,000 exabytes are 2e+12 (2,000,000,000,000) gigabytes of data. That’s 5,000 times all videos on YouTube.

To make sense of all that data and effectively use it in healthcare, the digital health industry needs a new breed of ICT workers: Bioinformaticians who understand advanced data analytics, machine learning and how to apply them to real-world cases in the healthcare industry.

Is that a path for you? Take a look at the study program in digital life sciences and the master of science in medical informatics at the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland address this need.

Patricia Gee, Deloitte Switzerland

Patricia Gee on the future of health

Take a glimpse into the future with Patricia Gee, director of the future of health initiative at Deloitte Switzerland.

She talks about the future of health and the changes in healthcare and policies that will happen.

Become a part of Switzerland’s digital health ecosystem.

The Basel Area is Europe’s leading healthcare hub, where we support promising ventures in

DayOne Health 4.0

Focused on accelerating innovative digital health ventures that solve problems across many healthcare areas from diagnosis, treatment and prevention to patient and caregiver communication to improvements that directly assist healthcare workers.

DayOne Tech

Our newest vertical accelerates medtech ventures in medical robotics, virtual reality for healthcare or personalized medical technologies.

Digital Health Nation

Our vertical empowered by Innosuisse accelerates early digital health ventures with a special focus on using academia to create patient-centered solutions with big pharma and startups.

Become part of the Basel Area’s thriving digital health ecosystem

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