SPHN Federated Query System

Information retrieval systems enabling researchers to query for specific clinical information of patients have so far been limited to individual clinics or single hospitals. With the new Federated Query System (FQS), established in the realm of the Swiss Personalized Health Network (SPHN), it is now possible to search for fully anonymized clinical information across all five university hospitals, while allowing the hospitals to retain full control over their data.

The SPHN Federated Query System (FQS) allows queries on anonymized and nationally harmonized data coded in national or international terminologies. Researchers can assess whether and where patients or patient data potentially suitable for a specific research question exist at one or several of the Swiss University Hospitals (UHs). The system enables researchers to verify the feasibility of their project by running simple queries against a subset of clinical data of all UHs. Additionally, it allows designing and optimizing inclusion and exclusion criteria for study protocols without transferring any patient data.

These queries may include demographic information (age and gender), diagnosis (ICD-10), procedures (CHOP), medication (ATC) with substance amounts and lab test (LOINC) with lab results and units (according to UCUM). Overall, the system includes over 600 Mio data points from currently over 600 000 patients, who signed the general consent.


Access Criteria

The FQS is accessible for authorized users through the BioMedIT portal (find instructions here).

Access requirements:

  • The user's institution has signed an agreement with SIB. Currently, the five Swiss university hospitals and the Universities of Basel, Bern, Geneva, Zurich, Lausanne, EPFL and ETH Zurich are part of the network. Additional institutions (e.g. further Swiss universities) have the possibility to join the consortium (contact the DCC for more details). 
  • Users have a SWITCH edu-ID account with their employing institution linked in their profile (though SWITCHaai). USB users need to contact their local IT to manually set up the authentication through SWITCHaai via SWITCH edu-ID
  • Each user has individually agreed to abide by the FQS Acceptable Use Policy.

Software and Data Architecture

The FQS is a federated distributed query system based on a customized version of the Patient Network Explorer (PNEx) software product developed by Clinerion. The local implementation at the hospital side is taken care of by the FQS WG. The data follows the same semantic standards as the SPHN semantic interoperability framework, so feasibility studies for research projects and real-world data provision are aligned in terms of semantic data standards.

Regular Data Loads

New anonymized data are loaded into the FQS on a regular basis, which means that the number of eligible patients in a given query may change over time as the total number of data points increases. The new data is loaded on the first Tuesday and Wednesday after the first Monday of each month. During this time, the system will be offline.

Watch our demonstration of the system here.

FAQ User Guide

Please send us an email if you have any question or feedback regarding the SPHN FQS.

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