3. Providing health services effectively
The section on PROVIDING HEALTH SERVICES EFFECTIVELY describes approaches for service delivery planning and patient pathways for suspected COVID-19 cases. It also considers efforts by countries to maintain other essential services during periods of excessive demand for health services.
3.1 Planning services
On March 13, the Federal Council took measures to ensure the efficient use of healthcare infrastructure across cantons and to prevent overloading in individual cantons. It obliged the cantons to provide the Confederation with up-to-date information on the total number and utilisation of hospital beds and ventilation equipment, stocks of personal protective equipment and the availability of medical staff. However, in general, Cantons are free to organise the cantonal response to COVID-19, which means that the organisation of testing and treatment varies widely across cantons (see section 1.5).
On March 20, the Federal Council imposed a more detailed ban on non-urgent medical procedures in hospitals. Healthcare facilities, in particular hospitals and clinics, medical practices and dental surgeries, were prohibited from carrying out medical examinations, treatments and therapies (interventions) that were not urgently indicated (see section 3.3).
The FOPH is encouraging doctors and hospitals to offer teleconsultations and provided information on the existing tariff structure that allowed reimbursement of teleconsultations. However, hospitals and doctors’ offices were free to decide whether or not to offer teleconsultation services.
In order to free acute care hospital capacities, patients could be discharged to rehabilitation facilities without obtaining prior approval from their health insurer (see section 4.1).
Planning for vaccination
On August 7, it was communicated that the federal government has concluded an agreement for the procurement of vaccine doses from the biotech firm Moderna, which is already at an advanced stage with its vaccine project. If the vaccine successfully passes the clinical trial phase and can be approved for the Swiss market, Switzerland will receive 4.5 million vaccine doses. It is expected that two vaccine doses will be necessary for one person, meaning that it will be possible to vaccinate 2.25 million people. Besides the conclusion of the agreement with Moderna, the federal government is still holding further talks with other companies working on vaccines in order to increase chances of rapid and secure access to vaccines. The Federal Council has allocated a total of CHF 300 million for the procurement of the vaccine.
Sources and links:
• March 13 announcement of federal measures against coronavirus: https://www.admin.ch/gov/de/start/dokumentation/medienmitteilungen.msg-id-78437.html
• March 20 announcement of federal measures against coronavirus: https://www.admin.ch/gov/en/start/documentation/media-releases.msg-id-78513.html
• Ordinance on Measures to Combat the Coronavirus (COVID-19): https://www.admin.ch/opc/en/classified-compilation/20200744/index.html#a10a
• August 8 FOPH new release on vaccination procurement: https://www.bag.admin.ch/bag/en/home/das-bag/aktuell/medienmitteilungen.msg-id-80005.html