October 2016

Helsana with its finger on Switzerland’s pulse

Are medical treatment and the administration of medication in Switzerland appropriate? Is the quality offered in the healthcare sector as it should be? These are the kind of questions looked into by the Helsana Study Centre, which is the largest of its kind.

Schweizer Karte
What medication leads to the highest costs and why? Last autumn, Helsana published a comprehensive Drug Report for the second time and stated its position on this issue as well as others. Industry experts and the media had already been eagerly awaiting the report and following its publication discussed the new facts in an active fashion. The third edition will appear soon and it is likely that the report will once more trigger a great response. In publishing the Drug Report, Helsana wants to create transparency as regards the supply of medicinal products. The analysis, which highlights how consumption and costs are developing in the domestic medication market, is the only one of its kind in Switzerland.

The Drug Report is one of numerous studies which the Health Sciences team publishes each year under the stewardship of Oliver Reich. In recent years, the team has identified, among other things, that doctors perform heart catheter examinations too quickly, a regular health check is essential for diabetics and psychological problems suffered by mothers-to-be go unrecognised far too often.

Commitment with foresight

“The intent and purpose of our investigations is to ensure better medical care”, explains Oliver Reich. “It is often assumed that health insurers are solely interested in keeping costs as low as possible and that they want to deprive patients of effective or cost-intensive treatment”, continues Reich. This, he states, is a very one-sided view. “We are required to think further. After all, we want to improve the health of our customers before they fall ill. And, should they become ill, we want to enable them to receive suitable medical care”, says Reich. “Here we mean effective, high-quality and efficient treatment”. This is precisely what Helsana wishes to promote with its studies.

Within the framework of its treatment research, the Helsana team investigates day-to-day medical practices, highlights the quality of the examinations provided and with its results provides both patients and doctors with support. The experts also devote themselves to data-based health-policy issues and in doing so create transparency within the healthcare sector.

The Helsana data set serves as a basis for this research. “Thanks to our size, we possess an enormous volume of data. The analysis of this data allows us to answer important questions and provide evidence in the form of relevant figures”, emphasises the Head of Health Sciences. Of course, the data is handled with the greatest degree of care. “Data protection is ensured at all times. We only work with anonymised data”.

The issues analysed by Helsana often emerge from day-to-day operations, are based on requests from institutions or are brought to our attention by universities and industrial firms. The interest shown by such a wide range of parties demonstrates the great need for in-depth studies in the area of healthcare. “In some cases, we are even able to finance our studies with external orders and funds from research projects. The demand for our analyses is still growing”, states Reich. To ensure that its studies bear fruit and lead to progress, Helsana publishes all of its reports in specialist scientific magazines and provides information to experts and leading media outlets. “If healthcare is to be improved, as many people as possible need to know about these issues, discuss them and work on them further”, says the Head of Health Sciences. “Only in this way can we achieve real change”.

Text: Daliah Kremer

Helsana studies on the Swiss healthcare system

Helsana is investigating the healthcare system in all regions in Switzerland, also with regard to the following topics:

International guidelines for diabetics

Diabetics who are treated in accordance with the recommended guidelines have to be admitted to hospital less often than other diabetes patients. The importance of these guidelines therefore has to be emphasised.

To the study

Heart catheter examinations

Doctors are too hasty in doing heart catheter examinations of their patients. This procedure can actually be dangerous to patients’ health and generates unnecessary costs for procedures that are sometimes not needed.$

To the study

How many medicines at a time?

Many older patients are regularly prescribed five or more medicines at once. This increases the risk of side effects, as these drugs can interact negatively with one another. Control of the issue of medicines has to be improved, and medicines should be prescribed in a more selective manner.

To the study

How sensible are managed care models?

Patients enrolled with a managed care model receive better treatment and help to save costs. Integrated healthcare should therefore be promoted and strengthened.

To the study

Different medicines in hospital

The medicines of hospital patients are often changed. The risks include higher costs and other unwelcome effects. Such changes are not necessarily dictated by clinical reasons only.

To the study