Secure health messaging systems

Communiqué de Presse | 28 Apr 2013

Secure health messaging systems : the key to ensuring personal health data is shared in patients’ interests, for coordinating treatment and allowing professionals from different disciplines to work together

Paris, 26 April 2013

The idea of enabling healthcare professionals to send each other secure emails containing their patients’ personal health data is an uncomplicated goal that has been shared by all healthcare professionals for several years, and is to be rolled out by ASIP Santé in 2013.

All healthcare professionals should be able to send a secure email to another professional in the interests of their patients, provided that the patients have been informed and have not withheld their consent. This form of exchanging data is no different from sending it by post, and these documents form part of patients’ records, which they are entitled to consult if wished.

In order to achieve this simple objective of being able to exchange data electronically, a number of conditions need to be met. Namely there must be :

  • A universal system which takes into account existing systems and is based on a reliable national directory containing the identities of all healthcare professionals – both those who work in hospitals and those who work independently. The shared register of healthcare professionals (RPPS) introduced in 2010 by ASIP Santé with the help of professional association (acting as national registration authorities), means that such a solution could now be possible.
  • A secure system that rigorously protects patients’ personal health data and covers professionals’ liability. Under the authority of the ministry of health, ASIP Santé will issue the electronic certificates required to safeguard the environment of trust shared by all public and private messaging operators signed up to the system. In addition to the healthcare professional card (CPS), there will be other equivalent authentication devices adapted specifically to the various different modes of professional practice – in particular regarding mobility – authorized by France's data protection commission (CNIL), which has just issued the device.
  • A simple solution using industry standards for granting access to these messaging systems via a straightforward Internet browser and integrating them into professionals’ software.

The national councils of the French associations of healthcare professionals (the medical association, the association of pharmacists, the association of dental surgeons, the association of midwives, the association of physiotherapists, the association of chiropodists and podiatrists, and the association of nurses) are in favour of developing a secure and reliable messaging environment.

The national councils of the French associations of healthcare professionals and ASIP Santé are pleased to see the majority of professional organizations and hospital federations helping define the service, under the coordination of ASIP Santé.

A consultation process has begun with software publishers in order to finalize and validate the technical specifications adopted by ASIP Santé.

Healthcare professionals have wanted to see a secure messaging environment implemented for quite some time now, to enable them to practice and treat patients seamlessly, and exchange information without any delays when providing patient care.

The fact that there are so many different, incompatible solutions currently available, added to the fact that there are various different directories and technical options, goes a long way to explaining why there has been little take-up of these solutions – there are a potential million healthcare professionals who could use them. By default, exchanging information using “public” messaging systems does not provide any guarantee in terms of security or of the protection of patients’ data.

Pilot secure health messaging system sites will be launched before the summer in order to make use of all of the services and initial compatible software packages before the end of 2013, ensuring national rollout from 2014.

Such a network of secure messaging systems will remove some of the barriers between private practices and hospitals in order to improve the coordination of patients’ courses of treatment. It may also play a part in planned tests to improve the treatment offered to elderly people at risk of losing their independence (PAERPAs).

The plan was presented to representatives from the regions by ASIP Santé in February, notably in the presence of Jacques Lucas (vice-president of the French medical association, CNOM) and Patrick Fortuit (vice-president of the French association of pharmacists, CNOP) during one of the inter-regional meetings (RIRs) organized regularly by ASIP Santé with the regional healthcare agencies (ARSs) and the regional e-health project leaders.

Dr Jacques LUCAS comments « We are happy to see ASIP Santé is carrying out an efficient round of consultations with the associations, professional organizations, hospital federations, regions and software publishers. Messaging systems for healthcare professionals will be developed both according to technical aspects and to ensure they are used in accordance with professional conduct and ethics, as well as IT security regulations»
Patrick FORTUIT , chair of the joint committee for managing the shared register of healthcare professionals (RPPS) also added : « Making use of the expertise of both ASIP Santé and the professional associations is, in this regard, essential. »

The meeting was also an opportunity for Jean-Yves Robin, director of ASIP Santé, to reiterate that: “Professionals have been wanting to see a secure messaging system project for several years now. The coordinated involvement of all professionals is the best way of guaranteeing that the project is developed properly.”

Thanks to an environment of trust and coherent security systems, users will not only be able to send messages to any other professional in the directory – regardless of which messaging operator they use – but also eventually populate a patient’s electronic health record (DMP) simply by sending an email and even draw up an e-prescription. This is a great example of how these two coordination tools will complement each other and work in harmony together.


Anne-Adélaïde SEGUY : 01 58 45 32 90

Claire AKOUKA : 01 45 51 64 65

Docteur Gilbert Bouteille, Vice-Président
Mme Stéphanie Ferrand, Juriste



Evelyne ACCHIARDI 01 53 89 32 80 –
06 80 07 30 62

Anne-Laure Berthomieu : 01 56 21 35 90

Franck GOUGEON : 06 80 62 24 33

Camille COCHET : 01 45 54 53 79 –
06 80 04 15 86