Christina Brunnschweiler speaking with another member of Sciana - The Health Leaders Network

Christina Brunnschweiler- I want to improve public health in a very hands-on manner


CEO of Spitex Zurich Limmat discusses her transition from the world of IT and finance to the health sector

Christina Brunnschweiler, chief executive officer of Spitex Zurich Limmat (SZL) AG, calls herself “a technology woman.” She understands postoperative medical care is as important at home as it is in the hospital.

In Switzerland, a community of family doctors and non-profit home care organisations known as Spitex provide appropriate housework services and nursing treatment for patients requiring continued care. These could be seniors, new mothers who need additional help after the birth of a child, pregnant women on bedrest, or people who return home from hospital following an illness or operation.

SZL, as Brunnschweiler explained, is a non-profit organisation whose mission is to help people recover from operations and sustain a good quality of life in their homes. It hosts approximately 6,500 clients a year. By using her technological know-how and background, Brunnschweiler helped develop an instrument that measured the progress of that mission from the beginning to the end of their intervention, as well as the “number of clients and satisfaction.”

“We are looking at the proportion… We are [always] having a little bit more or less the same number of clients, because the group… depends on the demographic situation. In Zurich… people right now are so [stagnant], but we have… younger people, so that’s why we have a lot of people… just coming from out of the hospitals, staying a couple of weeks with us until they are… ready to live their life on their own again.”

Brunnschweiler shifted towards the health sector after making the personal decision to dial back on international travel. The health care profession also held a certain significance in her heart. She sensed its unequivocal importance. The former vice president at MOR Informatik AG and Spectrospin AG said the transition to this new professional culture was certainly an adjustment, but “if you are able to… make sense of both worlds, to the IT world, to the commercial world, and to the Spitex world, you can achieve a lot.”

People in the health industry are more dedicated to a job well done than in any other profession, she observed, realising professionals in this field are true change-makers who aim to make a difference.

Noting the relationship between technology and medical care, Brunnschweiler said, “I think the knowledge in the health industry, [in] this sector, of economics, about technology, about marketing, whatever, was very, very low. All the thinking was very on people and not… on results; it was people driven. How do people feel, how do people react?... So it’s very different.”

Brunnschweiler is a member of the 2017 cohort of Sciana: The Health Leaders Network. She is part of a group of forward-thinking health care experts from Switzerland, Germany, and the UK who convene to discuss the latest in health care policy and innovation.

Sciana challenges members’ preexisting convictions on health care systems and encourages them to implement learnings from the Network. Brunnschweiler believes in the empowerment of existing principles in medical care and treatment, something she said has been one of her main takeaways from the meetings.

"Sciana [talks] a lot about joint care, about treating chronic care... In Switzerland… everything is still about acute care… In England, or in Scotland, it’s very different already and there, the focus is on chronic care and what you can learn there. It’s the importance of technology. It’s the importance also of the patient himself… in the Swiss groups… it’s more on the side of hospitals, insurances, and I think it’s very important to get in discussion with them and to really [help them understand] the issues of the next years because of chronic care… what that means to them.”

Brunnschweiler hinted she is working towards localising small-scale communities that work with GPs and therapists to establish a network of health care professionals for her organisation.

Speaking on her passion for the work she’s involved in, she explained that, while SZL is not as visible as other institutions, she strives to uphold the admirable and important work they do, give it a voice, and empower the network.

“Health care, for me, is not only, you know, making money and making good new projects… it’s really helping people and doing something in the sense of public health, and that’s where I get my passion… I really want to improve public health in a very hands-on manner.” Brunnschweiler said, adding that she wants to “help… in a good way, in a cost-effective way, in a way that people who are working in our industry, but also people who are depending on it, really get the best out of it.”