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Awareness, Transparency and Data Protection in Our Heart Center


Time to read: 5 Min.
Published in: on our own account at 28/09/2021

Encoded emails, forms, information sheets and consent forms understandably try the patience and nerves of our patients time and again. But why do we go to all this trouble?

Information and Transparency is a Central Concern for Us

It is a central concern of ours that you and the people you trust are fully informed at all times; this concerns your state of health, planned examinations and treatments, any consequences and risks, prognosis and financial aspects. We provide our patients with the latest research results and the best forms of therapy. We are available to answer any questions you may have and are happy to explain the medical rationale behind our recommendations. Decisions can always be made together. This also means that you can ask for a second opinion, that we can give a second opinion or that we are available to your family doctor in a consil. As a patient, you have the right to information and we take this seriously.

We always provide our patients with the relevant information documents before interventions and examinations.

With our "Cardiology A-Z" in an easy-to-read blog format, we also explain how heart disease generally occurs, how it can be diagnosed and treated, and what you can do to help with lifestyle adjustments. 

In our FAQ ("Frequently asked Questions") we also list the practical questions our patients face in their daily lives.

This can all seem like an overwhelming amount of information at first. While it is simply our legal duty to provide you with adequate information, you are also facing a treatment that carries risks and brings major life changes.

You Inform and Empower Us as Well

Questionnaires

At the same time, it is very important if it is clear at all times in your treatment how you are doing and what your health history is. As you may wander through different institutions and departments with a treatment, you will come across different questionnaires that complement the medical history you have already taken. Switzerland's medical system is not yet fully digitised and so you may still have to provide certain information more than once.

Reception and Transmission Authorisations

If the information (reports, examination data, images and film recordings) has already been digitised and can be transmitted, we still need to get permission from you firstly to receive and process the data and secondly to forward it. You can explicitly grant us these rights and provide the contact details of your previous medical professionals in the master form that you receive to fill out during your first visit to the practice. This is also required by the Swiss Data Protection Act. The same rights must, of course, be obtained from other attending physicians. Our practice assistants are required to strictly comply with the authorisations you have given them.

Consent Forms

No intervention without information and your consent: In the consent forms we use, you will find detailed information about the disease, a description of the intervention, treatment alternatives, risks and prospects of success, necessary preparations, additional questions for you and handwritten comments by the informing doctor. Last but not least, your signature is required for a written consent for the performance of a treatment or intervention.

Last but not least, the federal government (FINMA) also protects you from financial surprises in the area of supplementary insurance: for inpatient stays at the Hirslanden Klinik im Park, we inform you about the free choice of doctor as well as the costs. Your insurance company will be asked by the clinic to approve the costs.

Quality control included: in the case of TAVI and MitraClip interventions, the course of the treatments is scientifically recorded in a study: If you give your written consent, the corresponding data will be transferred anonymously to a Swiss registry. You can also refuse to participate or withdraw your consent at a later date at any time.

Together We Lock out Uninvited Fellow Readers

Timely Data Protection

Where practical digital data processing already works, it is imperative that digital data protection is in place.The internet is no pony's playground: data is stolen, altered, abused, combined and summarised in profiles, which are then traded. Nowadays a multi-billion dollar business, both legal (social media, search engines, chats, free services) and illegal (darknet, viruses and malware, encryption attacks) 

As cardiologists in Zurich, our doctors are subject to the Swiss Federal Law on Data Protection (DSG), the General Data Protection Regulation of the European Union (DSGVO) and the professional secrecy. Our doctors are your confidants and your personal and health data are defined by law as "particularly sensitive data". Accordingly, these data may only be processed, stored and transmitted by all medical institutions in accordance with the law, otherwise you may be punished.

We have to be aware of this. We have to take care of the secure transmission as well as the secure processing and storage. Health data of vulnerable and sick people is nobody's business and would open the door to criminal attacks.

Free Encryption Service for Our Patients

Did you know that your emails go around the world once? And that they pass several relay stations abroad before they arrive? Without activated SSL protocol in your settings, every station sees who writes to whom (and stores this for years). Without additional encryption of the contents (texts and attachments), they can even conveniently read them... Likewise, any knowledgeable participant in an open wireless network that you are currently using as an Internet connection. You have to configure the SSL protocol correctly on your devices yourself (mostly standard). 

We, on the other hand, encrypt the contents of the e-mails for you free of charge: 

  • Before you send us confidential data, please ask us to provide you with an encrypted e-mail connection ("HIN").
  • We will send you instructions on how to do this.
  • In a second mail, we will set up the encrypted connection, which you confirm by SMS for security.
  • In the browser, you can now conveniently and securely send us emails with your confidential information and so can we.

In short: Confidential information never belongs in normal mails. If this is impossible for you, there is still communication by post, telephone and at the practice visit.

We Protect Our IT Infrastructure 

We spare no effort to protect our digital infrastructure from unauthorised persons and criminals:

  • Our infrastructure is protected from unauthorised access and encryption attacks with a strong business firewall and dedicated software on endpoints.
  • Patient data, where legally permitted, is only temporarily stored in our own infrastructuret.
  • In the long term, patient data is stored in our practice software Curaprax from Swisscom Health. These are stored in a Swiss data centre and offer the same level of security as eBanking.
  • Our doctors and staff are trained in data protection and internet security.
  • Our website does not transfer any of our visitors' usage data to third-party services such as Google or YouTube. It is nobody's business what health topics you research for yourself or your friends. (This is currently being implemented.)

Links on the Topic

Frequently Asked Questions about Data Protection

To see the details in the following video instruction, it is best to open the video window to full screen size (rectangle symbol at the bottom right).

More information on our data protection measures can be found in the article "Together for Education, Transparency and Data Protection".

As a medical centre, we are obliged by the Swiss Federal Law on Data Protection (DSG) and the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (DSGVO) to protect your privacy and confidentiality and to protect your personal data from misuse. 

That is why we may only transmit communications with sensitive personal data in encrypted form by e-mail, by telephone, by post or directly in the meeting. We also only transmit your data to the doctors treating you if you have explicitly consented to this beforehand.

In the case of e-mails, both the communication channel (SSL protocol) AND the contents (HIN service) are encrypted.

Our IT infrastructure is protected by a professional, top-class firewall and backups, and our employees are regularly trained in data protection.

More information on our data protection measures can be found in the article "Together for Education, Transparency and Data Protection".

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Please note that in normal e-mail communication, the contents of the e-mails are not protected from being read, altered or forwarded by unauthorised persons. 

We therefore only use a mail encryption service (HIN) to send your personal data. Please ask us for an encrypted communication connection by e-mail and we will send you an initial encrypted message which you can reply to after a short registration for this service and which is then automatically encrypted.

You can also see how this works in the explanatory video below.

More information on our data protection measures can be found in the article "Together for Education, Transparency and Data Protection".

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