Usefulness and costs of medical treatments

publifocus (2011-2012)


The Swiss health care system has expanded considerably over the past decade. A growing number of people now work in the health care sector. Investment in medical technologies is constantly increasing, which has facilitated improvements in medical services and treatments. But without a proper evaluation and rationalisation of certain services, the extra costs generated by the new medical possibilities risk destabilising the health care system. Given the urgency of dealing with this question, the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences a+ have decided to launch the project «Sustainable health care system». This project, which is split into a number of modules, aims to determine the usefulness and value of medical services from various different angles.

Why a TA-SWISS study on this subject?

This publifocus represents one of the three modules of the project headed by the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences. The first module consists of a study which describes and evaluates different methods which enable the value of medical services to be determined. The study «Methods for evaluating the usefulness and the value of medical services and their application in Switzerland and other European countries» also presents the opportunities, as well as the limitations of using such tools in the Swiss health care system. In the second module, the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences will publish a statement of position on this delicate subject.

 Up to now, the sensitive subject of rationalising the health care system has essentially been dealt with by groups of experts, as well as decision makers. But what is missing from the debate are the voices of the citizens who will be in the front line of those concerned about these reforms. It is therefore extremely important to open up this discussion to the public. This publifocus, which is the third and final module of the project, will therefore help to clarify this subject from the point of view of citizens. The main objective of this publifocus is to determine, from the point of view of citizens, what are the usefulness, the opportunities and risks associated with the introduction of methods for evaluating medical treatments. The latter will also enable us to determine the level of acceptance of such methods among the population. This insight into the position of citizens faced with delicate questions can be used as a basis for reflection by politicians and decision makers.

Aims of the study

 During discussion evenings, citizens from each of the linguistic regions will need to estimate the strengths and weaknesses associated with an evaluation of medical services, formulate the opportunities and risks involved and focus on the future use of different evaluation methods within the health care system. The discussions should also demonstrate the extent to which, and the conditions under which a cost-benefit analysis of medical services is regarded as acceptable by the public.

Learn more

Sustainable health care system, Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences


Supported by
Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences SAMS
Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences SHAS
Centre for Technology Assessment TA-SWISS

TA-SWISS Project Supervisors

  • Nadia Ben Zbir, TA-SWISS
  • Dilini-Sylvie Jeanneret, TA-SWISS

Supervisory group

  • Prof. Peter Suter, Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences, SAMS, Basel (chair of the support group).
  • Prof. Nikola Biller-Adorno, University of Zurich.
  • Dr Ignazio Cassis, National Councillor, Motagnola.
  • Prof. Luca Crivelli, USI Università della Svizzera italiana
  • Barbara Gassmann, ASI/SBK, Bern.
  • Martina Hersperger, Swiss Medical Association FMH, Bern
  • Prof. Valérie Junod, University of Lausanne.
  • Margrit Kessler, Organisation suisse de protection des patients, Zurich.
  • Isabelle Moncada, RTS, Geneva.
  • Prof. Fred Paccaud, University of Lausanne.
  • Prof. Julie Page, ZHAW, Winterthur.
  • Dr Heiner Sandmeier, Interpharma, Basel.
  • Prof. Daniel Scheidegger, University Hospital, Basel.
  • Sandra Schneider, Swiss Federal Office for Public Health FOPH, Bern.
  • Prof. Giatgen A. Spinas,  Zurich University Hospital

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