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The Basel region also took the Swiss Digital Day as occasion to highlight its strengths in the area of digitalization. In the life sciences hub, digitalization plays a special role in personalized medicine, as the Vice President of the University of Basel explained in an interview.
The Basel Region Digital Day was an event taking place as part of the Swiss Digital Day. It was organized by the innovation and economic promotion agency BaselArea.swiss, the cantons of Basel-Stadt and Basel-Landschaft as well as the Chamber of Commerce of the two Basel cantons (HKBB), as a press release reported. Various universities, research facilities, companies and institutions attended the event at SBB railway station in Basel and presented their developments in relation to digitalization.
A further focus was the role of startups as accelerators for digitalization, which was considered in the respective topic discussion. The general public was also able to ask experts questions, which resulted in a discussion of data protection, for example. Given its status as a life sciences hub, this issue is particularly important for the Basel region as it is relevant in personalized medicine. “The population must be able to trust that we act responsibly in the handling of their data,” said Torsten Schwede in an interview conducted by the University of Basel. He is the University’s Vice President for Research and also Chairman of the Scientific Expert Board of the Swiss Personalized Health Network (SPHN).
Torsten Schwede explained why it is so important that a national data infrastructure for the promotion of personalized medicine is established, a project that has received funding of 68 million Swiss francs from the state: “In the healthcare sector, we are today generating a huge amount of data which could be of scientific, medical and societal relevance. While most data is captured digitally, it is compiled in a wide range of formats and stored across all manner of systems, so it cannot be used effectively.” According to Torsten Schwede, the secure transfer of data and its comparability are one of the greatest challenges being faced, considering the different healthcare systems in the 26 cantons.
If these problems can be overcome, patients will benefit from the alignment of large data volumes. This would make it possible to identify early on that a patient cannot tolerate a certain drug, for example. The national initiative SPHN is focusing on other areas in addition to oncology. “The University Hospital of Basel is running the Personalized Swiss Sepsis study, which is using artificial intelligence methods to predict which patients are most likely to be affected by septicemia on intensive care wards,” outlined Torsten Schwede.