Contemporary Debates in Bioethics: The Ethics of Health System Efficiency

The pervasiveness of information and communication technologies is changing medical and public health research landscapes at an unprecedented rate, by promoting massive and dynamic health data collection and sharing among different stakeholders involved in the healthcare sector.  These activities fall under the realm of so-called big data, and have the potential to make healthcare systems smarter by incorporating fragmented data from a myriad of sources into more meaningful units. These would allow the implementation of better cost-effective individualized health services and policies by eliminating the current “one-size-fits-all” approach while reducing under- and over-use of health services.  Nonetheless, such endeavor faces numerous challenges (e.g. technical, ethical, legal challenges, etc.), which need to be addressed carefully. For instance, what are the barriers to health data collection and sharing? Is data harmonization the way forward? Is our current anthropocentric approach to ethics adapted to these technology-driven fields? What are the limitations to informed consent and data protection? Is the legislative oversight adjusted or outdated?

This fall’s Contemporary Debates Seminar will thus explore these factors influencing health data collection and sharing in the big data era, discuss the ethics of precision medicine and digital disease surveillance, and cover the interlinked roles of digital ethics, governance and regulation in enhancing health system efficiency. In these eight interactive sessions, participants will attend presentations from leading national and international experts in the field and they will be invited to discuss these ethical issues at the end of each session.



Title of Presentation



Introduction to Smarter Healthcare

Lester Darryl Geneviève & Andrea Martani

(University of Basel)



Less waste, more value in healthcare delivery: promises and challenges of digital medicine

Prof. Antoine Geissbühler

(University of Geneva and University Hospitals of Geneva)


Ethical issues in assessing emergent technologies

Prof. Björn Hoffmann

(Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and University of Olso)


Governance and quality management systems in smarter healthcare

Dr. Jörg Willers

(University of Basel and University Hospital Basel)


Precision Global Health, a new approach aiming to benefit from the digital revolution to better target interventions in public and global health

Prof. Antoine Flahault

(University of Geneva)


The ethical oversight of smarter healthcare

Dr. Stuart McLennan

(University of Basel)


Paying it forward in medicine: learning healthcare systems and the PIRATE Project

Dr. Angela Huttner

(University of Geneva and University Hospitals of Geneva)


The E-general consent project: facilitating the utilization of routinely collected Swiss health data for research

Prof. Christiane Pauli-Magnus

(University of Basel and University Hospital Basel)