Patients in the Zurich Health Network – a physicians' network of 36 practices – are now able to access selected documents from their own respective medical record. This is made possible by the electronic health record Evita from Swisscom.
Philipp Katumba MD, initiator of the project and Head of the Zurich Health Network, recommends his patients to set up an electronic health record Evita: "With the electronic health record patients get back a huge amount of freedom and self-determination in all matters concerning their health. The health record also makes treatment easier and faster as patients can have immediate access to all of the relevant medical data, for example, when visiting a specialist, checking into hospital or getting a second opinion". In doing so, the patient controls what happens with the data. In the event that a patient's physician is absent or the patient wants to change physicians, his medical data will be available regardless, thus guaranteeing that he receives consistent treatment.
This service is, to date, unique in Switzerland. If a patient asks for his records, they are normally sent to his house by post, as healthcare data have yet to be digitalised. This would involve physicians having to spend additional time on preparing data for the patients, a workload for which they are not being paid. According to Philipp Katumba, however, healthcare data are just as important nowadays as the actual diagnosis and therapy itself. He is convinced that this is a solution that will work: "The more responsibility patients assume for their own health, the quicker they recover."
Patients are increasingly using the Internet to learn more about symptoms and therapeutic options. Communicating with physicians via modern electronic means, however, remains a challenge. According to Stefano Santinelli, Head of Swisscom Health: "Many patients would appreciate being able to communicate online with their physician. This is now possible for patients in the Zurich Health Network, as Swisscom's electronic health record Evita provides a secure communication channel for patients." Furthermore, data can also be supplemented with valuable additional information such as a patient's living will or vital signs from sensors or apps.