Swiss specialists in data semantics define the national strategy for the interoperability of research data to enable a strong policy of promoting personalised medicine.

The concept of interoperability describes the ability of different systems to communicate. This is a major challenge in biomedical research, and in particular in the field of personalised medicine, which is largely based on the compilation and analysis of numerous datasets. For instance, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that even when the technical, legal and ethical constraints are lifted, the data remain difficult to analyse because of semantic ambiguities.

Under the auspices of the Swiss Personalized Health Network (SPHN) and in close collaboration with representatives from all five Swiss university hospitals and eHealth Suisse, a team of scientists from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and the University Hospitals of Geneva (HUG), in collaboration with the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics and the Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV), have developed the strategy for a national infrastructure adopted by all Swiss university hospitals and academic institutions.

With its pragmatic approach, this strategy is based on the development of a common semantic framework that does not aim to replace existing standards, but to use them in a synergistic and flexible way according to the needs of the research and the partners involved. “Swiss university hospitals are already following the proposed strategy to share interoperable data for all multicentric research projects funded by the SPHN initiative”, reports Katrin Crameri, director of the Personalized Health Informatics Group at SIB in charge of the SPHN Data Coordination Centre. The implementation of this strategy marks a crucial step to stimulate research and innovation for a truly personalised medicine in Switzerland. Read more in the journal JMIR Medical Informatics.

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Gaudet-Blavignac C, Raisaro JL, Touré V, Österle S, Crameri K, Lovis C. A National, Semantic-Driven, Three-Pillar Strategy to Enable Health Data Secondary Usage Interoperability for Research Within the Swiss Personalized Health Network: Methodological Study. JMIR Med Inform 2021;9(6):e27591.