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COVID-19 Testimonial Series | MedCo

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Secure, privacy-conscious data analytics among hospitals


The following article is part of BioAlps’ testimonial series and was written by Professeur Jean-Pierre Hubaux, Full Professor, Laboratory for Data Security at EPFL, School of Computer and Communication Sciences (IC). Our series aims to provide a platform for the different life sciences actors from western Switzerland, who are active in finding and developing solutions to fight against the new coronavirus, to share their experience. 


Presentation of MedCo’s COVID-19 related activities

A team from the EPFL School of Computer and Communication Sciences (IC) has developed, MedCo, a platform for secure, privacy-conscious data analytics among hospitals. Data sets stay where they are (at each hospital); algorithms are sent to the data; partial results are always encrypted.


Exogenous impact of COVID-19 on the project

COVID-19 provided an additional application case and favoured the international expansion of the project. This substantially increased the number of partners and the visibility of the project.

In the coming months, the developed platform, called MedCo, will be deployed in hospitals and used by COVID researchers. The project team will focus on fuelling hospitals’ willingness to increase their data quality and homogeneity, and to enrol in the system.


Endogenous impact of COVID-19 on the project

COVID-19 impacted the project and the team by leading to way more discussions with international stakeholders on 4 continents. The changes induced by the crisis and its response will remain in place within MedCo’s project team because the situation in terms of health data needs to be fixed.


Cantonal and/or Federal support measures | MedCo’s feedback

The project team already enjoyed substantial federal and cantonal (through CHUV) funding before COVID and is now exploring additional funding options to reinforce the international collaboration.

The pandemic has already had an awful impact in terms of casualties, human suffering and on the economic front. The response has to be commensurate. We have learnt that worldwide, health-data management is not at the level it should be, which has delayed the understanding of the situation in the first months of the pandemic. This absolutely needs to be fixed, and Switzerland can play a key role.


Links to more information about the project