Advances at the interface between biomedicine and IT are leading to rapid growth in the amount of data available – genomics and other omics data, clinical data from hospitals and primary care, data from biobanks, and self-tracking health data (generated by individuals themselves). Personalized health uses this data to identify disease risks at an early stage, to tailor medical treatments to specific patient groups and to develop public health strategies.
Personalized or precision medicine relies on big data to optimize healthcare for individual patients – from prevention to diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation. The aims of personalized health are more far-reaching: data-driven findings should benefit not only individuals, but also the entire population, e.g. by enabling early identification of disease risks and the development of appropriate health strategies for those concerned.
For science and society
While the explosion in health data offers major opportunities for medical research and public health, the collection, storage and analysis of data raise numerous questions concerning quality, security and ownership, as well as the key issues of comparability and interoperability.
All these questions raise challenging questions for various scientific disciplines, individuals and society as a whole. Against this background, the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences have defined personalized health as a main topic to be jointly addressed by the member bodies over the period 2017–2020.
In a broader context, the Swiss Confederation has launched a National Support Initiative to promote personalized medicine. Within this framework, the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) and the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) have commissioned the SAMS to set up an organizational structure for the creation of a Swiss Personalized Health Network (SPHN). SPHN has been operational since 2017.