What is digital solidarity?

Health professionals and citizens associate solidarity in health care primarily with sharing financial risks. But measuring and sharing data can also be an act of solidarity. A new study provides insights.
14 April, 2023 by
What is digital solidarity?
GDI Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute

Where is the health care system in our society heading? How should and will we use data, and who determines the framework conditions? These questions are explosive. For what is at stake is nothing less than a comprehensive transformation of the health system; ethical questions as well as the question of how citizens are to be involved in this process.

Ultimately, the population should be empowered to decide on the use of their data. It is also important to show how society can benefit from the increased use of anonymised health data, for example in the context of public health or individual prevention, as well as through new, more effective therapies and other offers. This is a joint task that the players in the Swiss health system must face together with the population. A number of steps have already been taken. This also involves the question of solidarity in a digitalised healthcare system.

Solidarity in the digital world is the topic that the Sanitas Health Insurance Foundation is investigating and putting up for debate on its discussion platform. For this purpose, the GDI developed in 2021 four scenarios for a future data-driven healthcare system in the study "Are Smartwatches Eroding Solidarity?" : Big Government (state health paternalism), Big Self (state empowerment for healthy living), Big Business (deregulated health market) and Big Community (voluntary disclosure of health data).

The scenarios differ on the one hand with regard to the role of the state: how much does it intervene? And secondly, with regard to the use of health data: Is the majority used for surveillance, or is it to help people achieve their health goals? Based on these scenarios, the Sanitas Health Insurance Foundation subsequently initiated the dialogue series "Gesundheit digital – Solidarität und das Gesundheitswesen der Zukunft" (German language only) for the first time with health professionals and citizens as well as with national stakeholders to discuss central questions regarding the further development of the healthcare system.

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