Comparisons and Analyses of Health Systems

Switzerland uses comparisons and analyses to identify the strengths, weaknesses and challenges of its health system. Switzerland is involved in a number of international bodies whose task is to facilitate inter-system comparisons.

Strengths, weaknesses and challenges of the Swiss health system

Studies and analyses enable the Swiss authorities to compare the performance of Switzerland’s health system with other States. The most recent comparisons were published by the European Observatory on health systems and policies (2015) and jointly by the OECD and the WHO (2011). The Swiss system scores well overall, with the studies highlighting the following:

  • a high-quality health system that meets the needs of the population;
  • a dense network of service providers;
  • an ongoing reform of the health system; a slow process, but the results are considered to be sound and well accepted.

However, the studies point to several areas that could be improved:

  • the high cost of the health system, which accounts for a growing proportion of household spending;
  • the relative lack of equality in the system, with 3% of households not seeking treatments because of the expense;
  • the complexity of the health system, its limited transparency and the fragmentation, or sometimes incoherence, of benefits at local, cantonal and federal level;
  • the structure of care, which is too focused on hospital treatment at the expense of home care;
  • the dependence of the system on medical staff trained abroad

The same reports also draw attention to the challenges that are likely to create new demands within the system:

  • the ageing population;
  • the increase in chronic diseases;
  • the trend towards obesity in young people.

These challenges and observations have been incorporated into the Swiss Health 2020 healthcare strategy.

Institutions that perform comparisons and analyses

Several independent international organizations publish studies of health systems. The specific features of each helps to produce a picture of the health system in Switzerland and other States, which is as complete as possible.

The OECD produces regular empirical studies   

The goal of the OECD is “to promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world”. The OECD publishes numerous series of publications, two of which look at the Swiss health system:

  • “OECD Reviews of Health Systems” is a series of in-depth studies of health systems. Switzerland was featured in two studies, in 2006 and in 2011.
  • “Health at a Glance” is an annual publication that provides comparable data on different aspects of the performance of health systems in OECD States.

“The Commonwealth Fund” publishes global comparisons

The Commonwealth Fund is a private foundation whose purpose is to promote high-performing, efficient health care systems. The foundation publishes an annual study entitled:

  • “International Health Policy Survey”, in which Switzerland has participated since 2010. It contains comparative international data on aspects of health policy.

“European Observatory for Health Systems and Policies” carries out in-depth analyses

Hosted by the WHO Regional Office for Europe, this institution supports and promotes evidence-based public health policies through rigorous analysis of public health systems in Europe. Its key series of publications,

  • “Health system reviews (HiT series)”, provides in-depth, standardized analysis of the health system of one European WHO or OECD Member States. The most recent review, featuring the Swiss system, was published in 2015.

In addition, the FOPH occasionally mandates independent experts to perform comparisons or analyses on specific health topics. 

Further Information

Research reports on the International Health Policy Survey (IHP) of the Commonwealth Fund Foundation

Here you’ll find the results of the health policy surveys of the CWF.

Last modification 19.07.2018

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Federal Office of Public Health FOPH
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Global Health Section
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