A recent report by the Swiss Health Observatory (Obsan), presents the number of trips residents made to hospital accident and emergency departments (A&E) in 2016.
The number of visits per 1,000 residents varies widely. The average across all of Switzerland was 197. However, in the canton of Appenzell-Innerhodden only 53 per 1,000 of the population checked into A&E in 2016. While in Italian-speaking Ticino, 296 out of 1,000 did.
French-speakers were also more likely to head directly to A&E. Vaud (282), Neuchâtel (264), Jura (254) and Geneva (222) were all well above the Swiss average of 197.
The five cantons with the lowest rates: Appenzell-Innerhodden (53), Zug (117), Nidwalden (117), Schwytz (121) and Uri (126), were all German speaking.
At the same time some German-speaking cantons had high numbers too. Basel-City (252), Aargau (217), Schaffhausen (213), Solothurn (209), Obwalden (209) and Basel-Landschaft (209) were all above average.
Why are there such big differences?
Clémence Merçay, who worked on the report, told RTS that cantons with high rates had more hospital visits for less serious conditions, based on treatment costs.
However, when the number of urgent visits to doctors is combined with the number of urgent visits to hospital much of the difference between cantons disappears, she said.
In addition, the report shows that foreigners are more likely to use emergency services, something that might be explained by their unfamiliarity with the system and their lower likelihood of reaching out to a family doctor.
Across Switzerland, foreigners (232) were 37% more likely than Swiss (169) to visit a hospital A&E. This difference varied widely too. In Jura, the canton with the largest difference, foreigners were 89% more likely than Swiss to go to A&E, while in Glaris, with the lowest difference, they were only 2% more likely to do so.
A&E treatment makes up 9.3% of Swiss healthcare costs.
This is the first time the study has been done.