Corporate Digital Responsibility in the Swiss Healthcare Sector

How do Swiss healthcare organizations manage responsibility in the development and use of digital technologies?

person wearing lavatory gown with green stethoscope on neck using phone while standing
Photo by National Cancer Institute / Unsplash


The thesis explores how Swiss healthcare organizations manage their responsibilities in the development and use of digital technologies. This exploration is increasingly relevant given the rapid digital transformation impacting the healthcare sector, highlighting the need for ethical management of sensitive data and digital practices. The thesis investigates how digital responsibility is interpreted and implemented by Swiss healthcare organizations, shedding light on their commitment to safeguarding patient information while embracing digital innovations. Understanding and practicing digital responsibility is critical, as digital development enables new business models and changes the treatment of patients, as well as the communication and data exchange with different stakeholders.


As digital technologies advance, their integration into healthcare infrastructure becomes increasingly relevant. The Swiss healthcare system, a blend of state and private sectors, faces a slow and complex political context that affects digital advancement. Its overall digital maturity is below average compared to international and industry standards. While most larger healthcare organizations use electronic systems for managing patient data, only two-thirds of general practitioners do. Companies that design, develop, or deploy digital systems must recognize the responsibilities these systems entail, ensuring security, data protection, reliability, and fair interaction with users, especially given the sensitivity of health data.


While there is a clear recognition of the need for responsible management of digital innovations, the implementation of these practices varies. Challenges such as inconsistencies in digital standards and insufficient training on digital ethics were recognized. These findings emphasize the need for a unified approach to digital responsibility, including clear guidelines and comprehensive training for all healthcare providers to navigate the digital landscape effectively and ethically. Field voices call for closer cooperation between healthcare organizations and more effective interaction with political actors. Interviewees expressed a desire for more centralized decision-making power and clearer federal guidelines. Further structural issues, such as older decision-makers resistant to change, impact the leadership and system adjustments needed for digitalization. Practitioners often hesitate to invest in digitalization due to an unfavorable cost-benefit ratio. Simple, standardized, cost-effective, and scalable solutions are needed to beneficially meet stakeholder needs and lower entry barriers.

Implications for Practitioners

·         Practitioners must integrate digital responsibility into their daily operations and decision-making processes.

·         Ongoing education is crucial for staying updated on best practices for digital data management and security.

·         Healthcare providers need to foster a culture of transparency and accountability in digital endeavors. This involves engaging stakeholders at all levels in discussions about digital strategies and their implications for patient care.


The research method employed in the thesis is a qualitative approach, specifically utilizing semi-structured interviews. This method was chosen to gain deep, insightful perspectives into Swiss healthcare organizations and their understanding, implementation and struggles in the context of digital responsibility. Representatives from IT, the business sector, and healthcare were surveyed, mainly those in managerial or executive positions.

Note: This master thesis was written by Lukas Aebersold in 2022.