The French Health Minister recently unveiled its 2020 eHealth National Strategy, with the intent to boost innovations through the use of big data in health. The initiative is prompted by the advances in the ability to collect massive amounts of health data through connected devices such as phones, watches and apps, which present the opportunity to improve health monitoring, prevention and research. In addition, according to past surveys, a vast majority of French people view eHealth initiatives as a promising tool for modernizing their healthcare system, but consider France to be lagging behind in this sector.
The National Strategy is structured around four pillars:
- Developing the use of big data in health through the creation of information and communication technology tools aimed at assisting healthcare professionals and monitoring patients during treatment;
- Promoting joint initiatives between healthcare professionals, patients and the industry by increasing calls for tenders that focus on the eHealth sector, and creating “living labs” that allow companies to test their innovations in real-life settings;
- Cutting red tape and improving access to care through telemedicine services; and
- Strengthening the security of health information systems.
The Ministry has announced a €2 billion investment, including €750 million for the development of digital tools. The Ministry will also soon create a new “Strategic Council” to monitor the plan.
The new National Strategy follows recent coordination among other French stakeholders in order to engage more efficiently with authorities in the eHealth area. In December 2015, the French association of medical devices companies (SNITEM), the French association of pharmaceutical companies (LEEM) and the main associations representing companies in the IT sector (FEIMA, LESISS and Syntec Numérique) created the alliance eHealth France, which aims to foster eHealth initiatives. In parallel, in October 2015, fifty-nine start-up companies launched the association France eHealthTech, comprised of innovative companies developing apps, social networks and other web platforms for the healthcare sector.