Five innovative projects for better and more efficient healthcare

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As part of the European Partnership Transforming Health and Care Systems, the SNSF is supporting five projects based on cutting-edge technologies and international collaboration that aim to improve healthcare in Switzerland.

European health and care systems are facing significant challenges, including demographic changes, limited uptake of technological innovations, the effects of climate and environmental change, and ongoing political and social transformations. To address these challenges, the Transforming Health and Care Systems (THCS) initiative launched its first transnational call for collaborative projects in May 2023.

Under the supervision of an independent evaluation committee, 42 research proposals were reviewed, from which 28 projects were selected for funding. The scientific work is already underway.

Seven researchers supported by the SNSF

The SNSF is supporting seven researchers working at Swiss research institutions who are actively involved in five of the projects funded under this competitive programme:

  • The “TOGETHER” research project, conducted by a European research team and led in Switzerland by Professor Valérie Santschi, researcher at the La Source School of Nursing of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland (HES-SO), aims to improve the management of hypertension by integrating community pharmacies into primary care pathways. By offering blood pressure screening in pharmacies and introducing the concept of vascular age to patients, this project seeks to address the current shortcomings of the system, including low screening rates, a lack of patient awareness, non-compliance of patients with treatment, as well as limited coordination between healthcare professionals.
  • Francesco Puccinelli from Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) aims to improve the management of acute ischaemic stroke, in particular by reducing the time taken to access the catheterisation room for patients eligible for mechanical thrombectomy. The aim of this research is to evaluate the effectiveness and benefit for patients of the measures already put in place to optimise the management of ischaemic stroke cases. In addition to this retrospective aspect, the project also explores and evaluates new avenues in this field, including the impact of integrating telemedicine.
  • The aim of Philippe Ryvlin from the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at CHUV is to improve the diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy through an innovative digital solution. At present, epilepsy management is limited by the difficulty of obtaining electroencephalography (EEG) data over a very long period of time. To meet this challenge, Philippe Ryvlin's team proposes a telemedicine approach that replaces examinations in hospital with continuous monitoring at home. This approach includes a telemedicine platform for data transfer and communication, mobile EEG monitoring devices and artificial intelligence-based EEG analysis software.
  • Thomas Berger and Tobias Krieger of the University of Bern are leveraging augmented reality (AR) technology to develop ZeroOCD, an app that delivers AR-based cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) directly to patients’ mobile devices. This project aims to provide a scalable, accessible and cost-effective therapeutic solution for people with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), enabling them to receive therapy at home. In a randomised controlled trial involving OCD patients in multiple countries, the project is evaluating the clinical effectiveness of ZeroOCD compared to traditional CBT via videoconferencing. It also includes an economic evaluation to assess the cost-effectiveness of the intervention.
  • Emma Clarke-Deelder and Günther Fink from the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) are evaluating the performance of health systems in four countries (Latvia, the Netherlands, Scotland and Switzerland), based on the perceptions of the population. To this end, the research team is using the People’s Voice Survey to incorporate citizens’ opinions into their assessment. The study pays particular attention to high-needs groups such as migrants, adolescents and gender and sexual minorities. The results of this research are intended to inform health policies, guide reforms and support advocacy efforts to strengthen health systems.

Transforming Health and Care Systems (THCS): Key information

Objective of the partnership: To transform health and care systems to make them more sustainable, resilient, innovative, high quality, people-centred and equally accessible to all.

Intervention areas of the THCS initiative:

  • Health Policy and Systems Research (HPSR): analysis of health policies and systems to improve access to and effectiveness of care.
  • Development and adoption of new medical technologies: identification, evaluation and integration of new technologies to improve diagnostics and treatments.
  • Social, economic and behavioural research: study of social, economic and behavioural factors influencing health to guide health interventions and policies.

The partners: The partnership brings together 36 partners from 23 European Union (EU) member states and associated countries, including the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Expected results: Transformation of care systems through the coordination of research between partner countries, the generation of new knowledge, the digitisation of health services, and the co-design and deployment of innovative solutions.

Funding: THCS is a COFUND action under the Horizon Europe programme.