Abilis, a health platform with big ambitions

Acomprehensive eHealth platform that connects the pharmacist and his patient through various services: e-health, Electronic Patient Records, e-shop, and more. 


This winter, you may have seen these large photos of a young woman extolling the virtues of Abilis in train stations and cities across Switzerland. "With Abilis, things are getting better". The digital health platform was launched by Ofac, the professional cooperative of Swiss pharmacists, which has 947 member pharmacies throughout Switzerland. 

Felix Gros
Head of ELCA Digital Agency

When it was founded in 1963 in Geneva, the cooperative's main activity was to invoice prescriptions issued by pharmacies to health insurance companies or insured persons. This relieved the pharmacies of administrative tasks and allowed the teams to devote more time to advice and service to patients. Today, it is a pioneer in digital health.

Patients registered on the Abilis platform can not only purchase items online, renew their medication orders, access their pharmacy vaccination history, have access to copies of their pharmacy bills, but also open an electronic patient record, EPR.

However, there are still challenges to be met before digital health in Switzerland gets up to speed.


The birth of a project

The adventure of the Abilis eHealth platform, which has been entrusted to the Elca Group, is worth telling. In 2018, Ofac was looking for a partner to create a digital identity provider. It will be Elca and its TrustID solution, which has been certified by the Federal Office of Public Health for secure access to the EPD. About 100 specialists from Elca, TrustID and Ofac will work to create the health platform. They will meet for nine months, from March to November 2019, sometimes housed in the large room on the second floor of the Lausanne train station. The first version will be released, shortly before the big health crisis. Thereafter, new features, especially related to vaccines or Covid tests will be added.

The result? Today, anyone can register on the Abilis platform via a simple application on their cell phone.


How does it work?

Abilis is first and foremost a valuable tool for the pharmacy, which can ensure a more efficient and secure treatment of its patients thanks to a complete view of their file. Patients who decide to open a personal Abilis account can download a free mobile app that will allow them to access their medication record and interact with their pharmacy. The benefit? Patients with chronic illnesses can easily reorder their recurring medications and have them delivered, if necessary. Customers can view their current medications, medical bills, and health progress with a single click,

They can also open an EPR (Electronic Patient Record) that will use the same TrustID electronic identifier.

The pharmacist will know the medical history of his client and will be able to check the compatibility of the different drugs prescribed.


And the challenges?

Ofac's idea is to eventually become a key player in electronic patient records. It is already the only independent reference community available in Switzerland. But for the moment, there is no interoperability between the 7 reference communities, including Cara, the electronic platform of the cantons of Geneva, Vaud, Valais, Fribourg and Jura. In other words, if you are consulting at the HUG today, your doctor will put your file on the Cara platform, but your pharmacist affiliated to Abilis will not be able to consult it!

Furthermore, there is still a lot of convincing to be done, both with doctors and patients, to prove that digital health platforms can be totally secure, just like in e-banking. The Swiss are still very cautious in this area, and rightly so, because the personal stakes are enormous. Who wants to have their list of medicines revealed on the darknet?

Health data is particularly sensitive, which is why the Abilis application has been secured with Elca's TrustID solution, the highest level of security. Remember, hackers only go after easy targets. The danger comes from storing data on unsecured servers. This is still done far too frequently today.

So there are still challenges to be met, but the shift to digital health is inevitable and will eventually bring real added value for the patient.

Contact: Arnaud Lagger

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