Gérard de POUVOURVILLE: "We need to find a viable economic model for the various e-health applications"

Points de vue | 23 Jan 2013

Interview with Gérard de POUVOURVILLE, professor of health at the ESSEC Business School - director of the institute of health economics and management  

What is the current impact of health information systems on the organization of healthcare and on relationships between various healthcare stakeholders ?

For healthcare stakeholders, the possibility of having access to data on healthcare consumption and the running of the healthcare system is a considerable asset. The various data makes it possible to analyze and evaluate how the system is run, spot areas that aren’t working properly, carry out studies and issue recommendations. In addition to this use of the data by decision-makers and healthcare stakeholders, major savings could be made on the care and services offered to users. The idea is that broad access to information could have a positive effect on consumer behaviour.

For example, the implementation of the electronic health record (DMP), when it is truly operational, will allow information to flow freely between healthcare professionals. Work in America has shown that making shared digitalized patient health records available to healthcare professionals is essential for guaranteeing the continuity, quality and efficiency of patient follow-up care.

How does e-health contribute to the quality and security of healthcare ?

In addition to exchanging information, which goes a long way to improving patient care, teleconsultation and telemonitoring devices are also extremely interesting. Firstly, they help to remedy the medical desertification of certain rural areas and, secondly, significantly improve patient follow-up care.

It is possible, for example, to remotely monitor the settings of cardiac defibrillators worn by some patients and to intervene if necessary.

All of these applications represent a potentially huge benefit, but there is still a certain amount of uncertainty and sometimes reservation in France regarding funding, the remuneration of the professionals who use the applications and still, in the case of teleconsultations, the question of legal liability.

What conclusions can currently be drawn on the e-health sector from an economic point of view ?

This is a sector which already has major stakeholders who generally offer large-scale telemedicine and telemonitoring solutions, as well as IT consultancy firms specializing in healthcare systems engineering. In global terms, the e-health sector could experience rapid growth.

It is an interesting area of investment for the country’s economy, innovation and growth, but also for improving the healthcare system. We therefore need to find a viable economic model for the various e-health applications in order to lift the constraints hindering their development.