How will the Swiss healthcare system develop further? Prof. Dr. Alfred Angerer and Sina Berger from the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) investigated this question and interviewed various experts. This article also appeared in this year’s Digital Health Startup Market Report by Health-Trends.

Prof. Dr. Alfred Angerer and Sina Berger*, ZHAW

Who doesn’t know the bon mot: “Forecasts are difficult. Especially when they concern the future”? Statements about the implementation of digital health in Switzerland are indeed very vague, and the accuracy of the forecasts is often low. This is because the digitization of our Swiss healthcare system is not a technical project that can be planned. The digital transformation is above all a cultural change, which depends strongly on the will of the actors and the broad population. Telemedicine is regarded as a positive example of cultural change: The number of general practitioners offering telemedical consultations has suddenly almost tripled from one year to the next thanks to the pandemic (gfs.bern, 2022). And it looks as if this trend towards telemedicine will remain current even after the pandemic. Thus, providers and citizens have discovered the advantages and personal benefits of this digital innovation for themselves. Even though future forecasts on digital health in Switzerland are usually not accurate, they can still be very valuable. They are the reflection of the mood of the population and indirectly provide information about what people really expect from the digital health transformation.

Four Digital Health Forecasts for Switzerland

In order to ascertain this mood, we at the ZHAW presented members of the Network Health Economics Winterthur (NGW) with bold theses on the development of digital health in the Swiss market in our Digital Health Report 2021/22. They then rated on a scale of 0 to 100 percent how likely they thought these statements would be. In the following, we present one result each from the areas of trend health, e-health, tech health and data health.

Question: How likely do you think it is that…Response (in percent)Interpretation
of the answers
…in 10 years’ time wearables will have a positive influence on people’s health awareness so that, for example, the incidence of overweight and obesity will be significantly reduced (-5% percentage points by 2031)? (trend health)The experts estimate that the positive contribution of wearables in this area is rather low. This probably has less to do with the technology per se, but rather with the behavioral change of us humans – and this is known to be very difficult to influence in the long term.
…in 10 years e-prescriptions will replace classic paper prescriptions by at least 95%? (e-health)This question was rated with the highest values of all forecasts. From a technology perspective, the introduction of e-prescriptions is not a major hurdle. The benefits for patient safety and convenience have been proven to be high. Accordingly, it is estimated that this application is most likely to become established in the Swiss healthcare market.
… in 5 years, 20% of Swiss households will own a connected, digital diagnostic device to perform preliminary examinations and long-term monitoring at home? (tech health)This question divided the experts surveyed. Estimates ranging from 0% to 98% were given. Such a wide spread indicates that there is great uncertainty about the future. However, there is no bottleneck on the technology side – well-functioning diagnostic devices are already available on the market today. Whether they will be accepted by the population, however, is the great unknown.
… in 10 years, a Swiss doctor was successfully sued for the first time because she did not consult artificial intelligence (AI) when making a diagnosis? (data health)Why do most experts not believe that the use of AI for diagnostics will be introduced as mandatory? This could be due to technical reasons. However, it is much more likely that the experts know how much our society values and at the same time protects the medical profession. Laws forcing them to use AI are difficult to imagine in Switzerland. Even if it could undoubtedly be proven that the quality of diagnostics proves to be better with AI.

Conclusion: Common Vision Needed

The experts interviewed by the NGW represent the diversity of actors in the health sector: The answers from people from the areas of hospitals, pharmaceuticals, pharmacies, medical practices, insurance companies, the public sector and education, among others, were evaluated. And as diverse as their backgrounds are, as broad were their assessments of the topic of digital health forecasts. We derive two conclusions from this wide spread. Firstly, the wide dispersion is a symbol of the fact that we are in a very volatile situation. Given this, it is very difficult to predict what will actually prevail in the next five to ten years. Secondly, let’s interpret the large dispersion also as a high variance in the wishes of the actors in the health sector. There is still no consensus on what we actually want from a digitally transformed healthcare system. It is well known that every transformation journey should start with a shared vision. Accordingly, we need a stronger public discussion about what kind of healthcare we want as citizens of this country in ten years’ time – because only in this way can we embark on the transformation journey together in a meaningful and directed way.


Angerer, A., Hollenstein, E., Russ, C., (2021). Der Digital Health Report 21/22: Die Zukunft des Schweizer Gesundheitswesens. Winterthur: ZHAW Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften.

gfs.bern (2022) Swiss eHealth Barometer 2022.

*Alfred Angerer is a professor of healthcare management at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW). He is also part of the board of the ZHAW Digital Health Lab and the board of the digital health center Bülach. Sina Berger is a research associate at the Winterthur Institute for Health Economics at the ZHAW.

This article has been published alongside other contributions from practice partners (e.g. DayOne, digital health center Bülach, Peak Spirit) in this year’s Digital Health Startup Market Report by Health-Trends. The Digital Health Startup Market Report provides an overview of the Swiss startup landscape in the digital health environment with detailed figures and overviews of business models, company specifics and market developments.


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