13.06.2023 – Since 2017, the Swiss Personalized Health Network (SPHN) initiative has been coordinating the development of data infrastructures for the responsible use of health data for research throughout Switzerland. After 2024, the foundations established by SPHN must be permanently integrated into the Swiss research landscape. The mandate for the consolidation and operation of the future SPHN Data Coordination Centre (SPHN-DCC) shall be assigned to the SAMS for the period 2025-2028.
In 2017, the SPHN initiative was launched on behalf of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) and the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) for a period of eight years. Since then, the SAMS and the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics have been jointly responsible for implementing the mandate. In view of concluding the initiative in 2024, a multi-stage consultation process with all the partners involved has shown that there continues to be a great need for the services and core infrastructures of the SPHN-DCC and nationwide coordination also beyond 2024. A corresponding report with options for the continuation of the SPHN-DCC was submitted to SERI at the end of last year and will be published in autumn 2023.
A fruitful collaboration between SAMS and SIB
The collaboration between SAMS and SIB within the framework of SPHN has proved particularly successful: As an independent partner for the health sector, SAMS was able to establish a trusting governance for SPHN. Meanwhile, SIB, with expertise and resources in bioinformatics has been responsible for the technical implementation of the initiative through the DCC: this includes the development of semantic and technical interoperability, pioneering work and training with a view to FAIR data as well as the establishment of a secure IT network for responsible health data processing (BioMedIT). In addition, SIB supports the legal framework for the exchange of health data in multicenter research projects. The SPHN-DCC and BioMedIT Network have thus laid important foundations strengthen data-driven research in the field of medicine.
The ERI Dispatch 2025-2028 consolidates the foundation
The ERI Dispatch 2025-2028, published for consultation at the beginning of June, includes the consolidation of the SPHN-DCC as a national competence and coordination center in the area of health data, including the BioMedIT infrastructure and the National Data Streams. A basic financial contribution of CHF 21 million from the Confederation secures the central services. Additional matching funds from the participating institutions such as the university hospitals and higher education institutions are necessary to make health data available for research and enable their responsible use. During the preparation of the report, the universities and university hospitals have already expressed their basic willingness to support the SPHN-DCC. In the coming months, this collaboration needs to be further elaborated.
SERI intends to anchor the governance of the SPHN-DCC in a national steering committee including all important stakeholders, similar to the current setting. This body, as well as the operational responsibility for the SPHN-DCC, will be provisionally managed by the SAMS. This enables the consolidation of the SPHN-DCC without restricting the further development of the overarching national research and health data strategies.
The continuation of the SPHN-DCC is a recognition from the government for the achievements of all institutions involved: SAMS, SIB, the university hospitals, higher education institutions and the various partners of SPHN. The trustful cooperation of all stakeholders remains crucial with regard to long-term future of the SPHN-DCC and the benefits for Switzerland as a research location. The mandate is included in ERI Dispatch and will hopefully receive broad support in the consultation running until 24 September 2023.
Link to consultation (in German): https://www.fedlex.admin.ch/de/consultation-procedures/ongoing#https://fedlex.data.admin.ch/eli/dl/proj/2023/9/cons_1