Pierre Gattaz: "Working towards integrating all systems"
Points of view | 21 Jun 2010
The view of Pierre Gattaz (FIEEC)
At present, in France, numerous regional telehealth and telemedicine initiatives are underway, which are undoubtedly worthwhile, even if they have been achieved by making the best of what's available – in other words, with the goodwill of each stakeholder.
The major drawback of these initiatives is their lack of interoperability, which makes them prohibitively expensive and prevents the development of a genuine market, and therefore a lasting industry. We have now reached the point where everyone is in agreement about the need for a strong society; we have come to a collective realization, seen major advances in technology, and accepted that lasting solutions are required.
The challenge is now to work towards integrating all systems, ranging from home support (mostly made possible by home solutions), to the most specialist telemedicine, home hospital care and treatment. Information systems are the link between all of these solutions.
The industries represented by the FIEEC cover this entire chain of solutions (home solutions, electric and digital infrastructures, medical services, healthcare software, etc).
This being the case, we are able to measure the strategic nature of interoperability, both in terms of information systems and telehealth products. This is essential if we are to move into a phase of industrialization and deployment.
There is a pressing need to strengthen and/or create interoperability between systems, based on international standards in this field, and France can and should play a leading role in defining these standards.
Internationally compatible standards
We need a high-performance, flexible and affordable standardization tool to support businesses. The French electricity union (UTE) offers an interesting example of an effective, widely accepted standardization tool that is tailored to the needs of businesses.
France needs to urgently adopt standards that are internationally compatible, possibly through existing consortiums such as Continua, so that all of the telehealth projects and initiatives implemented in the future can be interconnected.
The work recently carried out by ASIP Santé, which demonstrated its willingness to consult with the relevant industrial sectors, ties in with this thinking and therefore must be continued and extended.
To achieve interoperability, efficiency is key. It is vital that we do not create a reference system for France alone which cannot be harmonized with other European and international systems. Otherwise, telehealth will never become the important industry that it promises to be.
Pierre Gattaz, President of the French association trade union group for the electric, electronic and communications industries (FIEEC).