The successive reforms over the past 20 years have gradually modified the French healthcare system without being able to fully adapt to the demographic, social and economic challenges it faces. Considered as a lever for improvement, digital technology is being increasingly used to oil the cogs of transformation in the French system just as it is in Europe, gradually leading towards digital health.
The 5 projects for a digital health:
A new transformation strategy was an¬nounced by the French public authorities in February 2018. It involves five projects, including speeding up the digital shift – an operation which has led the government to set three strategic objectives for 2022: on¬line accessibility for every patient to all of his/her medical data, making all prescriptions electronic and effectively simplifying sharing information between all healthcare professionals.
« What I want is comprehensive reform to develop our healthcare system. Today, with the Health and Solidarities Minister, I have set that transformation in motion which will outline a vision of our future healthcare system with five projects: quality and relevance of treatment, ways of financing and regulation, the digital shift, the quality of healthcare professionals’ training and work lives and, lastly, the way care is organised throughout regions.»
Edouard Philippe, French Prime Minister, 13 February 2018
Coordination, patient care and sharing of the reforms from 2002 to today:
Law of 4 March 2002
On patients’ rights and the quality of the hospital system. Patients have free and unmediated access to their medical records.
Law of 13 August 2004
On health insurance, this law created staff medical records (SMRs) and tries to make coordinating effective care easier by having patient treatment coordinated around a general practitioner or as part of a network.
Law of 21 July 2009
On a hospital reform relating to patients, health and regions. This law created Regional Health Agencies which coordinate every health policy within a regional framework, and regional hospital communities (on a voluntary basis)
Law of 26 January 2016
Modernising our health system. This law aimed to promote structured patient care and improve access to treatment. Regional hospital groups replaced regional hospital communities and became mandatory for public healthcare organisations.
The aim is to finalise an evolution that began with the 2002 Kouchner law on patients’ rights and the quality of the healthcare system, which ushered in a new era by giving patients the right to access their own information and medical records, and more generally, the arrival of health democracy.
Each reform is characterised by specific terminology: therefore, the emphasis was put on medical records (2002, 2004), regions and cooperation (2009), and comprehensive care from prevention to treatment (2016). Essentially, we still have the same issue of improving how people are cared for by collecting, processing, sharing and exchanging relevant information. In theory, this approach is made easier by IT systems expanding, both in hospitals as well as throughout the healthcare system. However, we will see that even though unquestionable progress has been made, we still have a few obstacles to overcome.