E-Health – Technology benefiting the patient-physician relationship: what are the challenges and barriers?

Published on 11 November 2017 Read 25 min

Lyon, November 10, 2017 – Alcimed, a consulting company specialized in innovation and business development, is revisiting the promise of e-health and the challenges to be tackled to enable it to really take off in France.


Towards a transformation of care management

The latest medical and economic studies show that chronic diseases account for 70% of health system expenditure and 86% of mortality in France[1]. Driven by excellent medical care, we are living longer and longer, despite Long-Term Illnesses (LTIs) that now affect 17% of the population insured under the general plan[2].

A better understanding of these diseases, from screening to treatment, has led to the development of precision medicine that aims to promote preventive behavior. This prevention is made possible by two factors:

-An integrated approach to medicine going beyond the organ and integrating behavioral components (diet, physical activity, etc.)
-A technological revolution that now allows access to large quantities of physiological data that were out of reach only a few years ago. This revolution is causing disruptions in the field of connected health objects, but also in telemedicine, home care and outpatient surgery.

Beyond the increase in life expectancy, this transformation also leads to an increase in remote care, allowing a better quality of life for the patient and at the same time relieving the burden on a health system (particularly a hospital) that can devote more time to so-called “advanced” medicine.


e-Health as a support to the patient/physician relationship

The management of patients with LTIs is greatly facilitated by the use of digital tools to collect physiological data, connect patients and healthcare professionals and detect patterns that require emergency or follow-up medical or paramedical intervention.

e-Health (or digital health), which is defined as the use of digital technologies to serve the health ecosystem, has its rightful place here. France has a role to play in this area. The white paper published by the think tank Renaissance Numérique[3] highlights our country’s assets to make it a field of excellence: an internationally recognized medical tradition, a network of innovative start-ups and a high level of engineering education.

There are many examples of start-ups seeking to promote the development of e-health and the efficiency of the healthcare system.

In the telemedicine sector, we can mention in particular Visiomed, H4D or Parsys Telemedecine, which offer solutions integrating several measurement tools and allowing decentralized support at very high levels of integration, as is the case for the H4D ConsultStation.

e-Health can be found in other applications aimed at deterritorializing expertise. This is the case, for example, of the start-up Medpics, which allows healthcare professionals to share clinical cases and trains them in the diagnosis of more complex cases. There are currently more than 20,000 healthcare professionals connected to the platform, more than 75% of whom are doctors.

Finally, other projects aim to make the care process more fluid and provide rapid access to essential information that facilitates exchanges between professionals and patients. As such, UmanLife is a start-up whose ambition is to offer a simple and fun prevention platform so that everyone can be an actor in their own health and well-being. Also acting as a digital health record, the platform can serve as a coach by aggregating data from the user’s various applications and/or connected objects.


Real digital challenges for an effective implementation of e-health

Despite their versatility, these e-health offers have one thing in common: they require a homogeneous digital network of sufficient quality to enable everyone to have equal access to this information or the services that result from it. However, the digital divide of French territories is unfortunately a reality. “In 2017, there are still areas without internet or mobile coverage, which isolates both healthcare professionals and patients.” comments Benjamin D’HONT, a Project Manager at ALCIMED.

While digital deserts partially overlap with the medical desert map, there shouldn’t be any confusion: universal digital coverage will not solve all the challenges of accessing healthcare. However, it will facilitate the development of connected health and the benefits of this development are multiple: home hospitalization, remote monitoring of chronic diseases, smoother patient/professional interactions, training at a distance for professionals….

The development of digital health is a must. In September, the government announced as part of the Grand Investment Plan, that €9 billion will be dedicated to the country’s digital transformation. Telemedicine, as well as the digitization of hospitals, are among the key areas of this funding envelope. It is this type of initiative that will, hopefully, make it possible to demonstrate that digital health care is a formidable tool to break down barriers and provide equal access to care.


[1] http://www.chu-montpellier.fr/fr/prises-en-charge-specifiques/prises-en-charges-specifiques/maladies-chroniques-vieillissement-en-bonne-sante/

[2] http://www.lemonde.fr/sciences/article/2017/03/20/les-maladies-chroniques-bousculent-la-medecine_5097770_1650684.html

[3] http://lecrip.org/2017/05/30/e-sante-france-a-quil-faut-devenir-leader-mondial/


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