Over three years, the French Ministry of Health has converted an e-health roadmap into e-health services for its citizens and a robust data-sharing infrastructure. The transformation continues with fast-track market access for digital therapeutics and aspiration for cross-Europe clinical evaluation of health apps.
Five Pillars of the Digital Shift
“2022 is a breakthrough year for digital health in France. We are coming to the end of our flagship three-year e-health roadmap. And there is much to celebrate. We’ve managed to create an ecosystem that will be the soil for the growth of innovations in healthcare,” said Isabelle Zablit-Schmitz, eHealth Europe & International Director at the French Ministry of Health in an interview for The Sidebar.
The “Accelerating the eHealth shift” strategy announced in 2019 aims to cover all citizens with Shared Medical Records, enabling them to access digital health services through My Health Space (Mon espace santé), a platform also available on smartphones.
Another achievement is the development of a framework for sharing health data within the national health system and among other European countries.
It has a broader context – data exchange within the long-awaited European Health Data Space. Contributing to the European Health Data Space ambition is at the top of the deliverables during the French Presidency in the EU Council.
Decreasing Ambitions, Favoring Improvements
“With the e-health roadmap, we are catching up with basics like e-prescriptions, patient records, infrastructure, and digital governance. In the meantime, we are speeding up by introducing a €650 million program to support early-stage start-ups, accelerate research, enhance education, and upscale innovation,” highlights Isabelle Zablit-Schmitz.
Unlike many other European countries sinking in increasingly expensive and endless digital health mega-projects, the French Ministry of Health skipped ambitions in favor of incremental advancements. For example, e-prescriptions were first designed with no structured data as opposed to a complex data exchange system. It’s not perfect, but it’s a part of a long journey and brings small benefits from the start.
“Long-term e-health projects usually don’t work well. People change, technologies and priorities evolve, ecosystems develop, digital transformation sets new directions. Only the strategy remains static. After a few years, it’s already outdated, and the implementation often fails,” notes Zablit-Schmitz. “So we used to set values like ethics and goals like interoperability then followed up with single and efficient projects that fit together and provide tangible outcomes for citizens.”
The health and social sector will also benefit from another €600 million within the Post-COVID Recovery & Resilience Plan. Part of the budget will be spent on the European convergence.