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Department of Informatics Information Management Research Group

Digital Companion

The digitization of medical consultations has so far barely gone beyond the use of electronic medical records (EMRs) and largely leaves patients out in the cold. They help themselves with Internet research and with over 300,000 mHealth apps. Very few of these mHealth apps have sufficient scientific evidence of their effectiveness.

A serious disadvantage of Internet research and mHealth apps is their isolation from the medical workflow. Physicians and other healthcare professionals (HCPs) spend a lot of time reassuring misinformed patients. They also do not have the time to familiarize themselves with dozens of different mHealth apps. Data from such apps would need to be integrated into EMRs and medical workflows.

Digital Companion 1


Despite EMRs, Internet research, and mHealth apps, patient recall of information and recommendations, health literacy, and adherence to treatment remain insufficient. However, better adherence would likely have a greater impact on public health – especially in the treatment of chronic diseases – than many newly developed drugs or specific therapies. However, measuring adherence is particularly challenging. This measurement is essential for effective, appropriate, and affordable service provision (cf. Art. 32 KVG).

Therefore, the Digital Companion mHealth app aims at
1.    improving patient adherence to treatment, health literacy, and recall of information and recommendations;
2.    improving adherence measurement and support;
3.    integrating the patient app into the EMR and medical workflow.

The Digital Companion consists of three software agents, all of which are based on artificial intelligence (AI). The Digital Companion is developed as an integrated extension to the EMR and is certified as a medical device.  It supports the collaboration between physicians, other HCPs, and patients, which is important for good adherence, focuses on the treatment of chronic diseases, and closes the loop from one consultation to the next.

Digital Companion 2


The project is funded by Innosuisse. The research partners are the Zurich University of Applied Sciences, the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Western Switzerland, and the University of Zurich. The implementation partner is Helmedica AG, and the application partner is the COBEDIAS Institute.