During the COVID-19 outbreak, French healthcare facilities were entirely focused on containing the pandemic and providing care for French residents. Currently, the number of French COVID-19 patients in intensive care is low, and healthcare facilities are well organised to cope with the pandemic. In an interview with Omnia Health Magazine, Jean-François Gendron, president of the French Healthcare Association, shared that travel to France for medical reasons will again be widely possible, and the country expects to receive more and more medical travellers in the coming months. Excerpts:
Is France considering vaccine tourism?
There are no plans to bring foreign patients to be vaccinated in France. But since the beginning, France has been committed to ensuring access to vaccines for all through active support for the WHO’s COVAX programme, a system for pooling vaccine purchases for the most disadvantaged countries. Recently, President Macron announced that France would provide at least 30 million vaccines to the COVAX programme to ensure that people in all corners of the world get access to COVID-19 vaccines.
For what treatment do patients usually travel to France?
French medicine combines therapeutic and technological innovations and a strong network of specialists in every field of medicine. This is especially true for cancer treatment, which is the first reason for medical travel in France because we have leading cancer centres. Patients also travel to France to consult experts in cardiology, urology, proctology, internal medicine, diabetology and vascular surgery. The French offer is very large.
Beyond the excellence of medical treatment, French healthcare facilities are also fully organised and dedicated to answering to international patient needs. To guarantee high-quality services, such as bespoke reception, catering to special demands and efficient communication, the French Hospital Quality label was designed. It identifies institutions that meet the highest quality standards. French Healthcare Association has also launched a dedicated website: https://myfrenchhospital.com, a search engine intended for foreign patients seeking a hospital in France.
Has France responded positively to telemedicine?
Telemedicine acts have been clearly defined in France since 2010. Moreover, the French Health Insurance covers teleconsultation acts since 2018. Access to teleconsultation has been further facilitated in the context of the pandemic and has proven its usefulness, with more than four million virtual consultations in France in April 2020!
This boom was enabled by favourable public policies and a rich ecosystem, including innovative companies such as H4D and Doctolib. French hospitals are also developing tele-expertise on an international scale.
What, according to you, are the healthcare trends to watch out for in 2021?
In France, the release of the Sanofi vaccine will allow to boost the French global response to COVID-19 and accelerate the already fast-paced vaccination campaign. In addition, it will contribute to speeding up medical tourism in France.
Furthermore, many countries must fight against cancer, cardiovascular diseases and complications linked to diabetes. They also express needs around emergency care, remote care and mobile health. France can offer them equipment and expertise in all these areas.
French Healthcare is an innovative public-private initiative aimed at bringing together under a single banner all the players in the French healthcare ecosystem (businesses, researchers, healthcare professionals, key public stakeholders, etc.) to jointly promote their activities, expertise, technologies and innovations internationally. French Healthcare is supported by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, The French Healthcare Association and Business France.