A French Fitness Check: Reimbursing HealthTech Solutions
During Allied for Startups DTx Startup Congress, we launched The French Fitness Check, uncovering a multi-stakeholder perspective on the opportunities and challenges facing the digital health innovation sector in France. As a HealthTech Charter initiative, this report aims to map out the French reimbursement environment and reveal areas for improvement to best empower digital health innovators with the tools to succeed.
According to Benjamin Hardy, CEO of Biloba, an application that connects parents to doctors in less than ten minutes, “For us, we solve the impossible equation. We do a better consultation at a better user experience, and at a lower cost. So it’s better for the patient, it’s better for the system, it’s better for the GP, but – it’s not reimbursed yet.” A key barrier to the wider adoption of digital therapies and telehealth solutions is the lack of standardised pathways to reimbursement and prescription across European healthcare systems – where publicly-funded health systems are the norm.
Under the ETAPES (Expérimentations de Télémédecine pour l’Amélioration des Parcours en Santé) program, kickstarted in 2014, a sandbox was created for the deployment of telemedicine solutions across France. The sandbox, extended until 2022, aimed to encourage the use of innovative technologies in addition to exploring the advantages telemedicine could bring to the French health system. Creating sandboxes to test digital health solutions empowers innovators with a conducive and contained space to experiment with innovations outside of the existing regulatory framework and allows regulators to collect important insights before deciding on further regulatory action. Following the execution of the ETAPES program, the regulation of the reimbursement of remote medical monitoring for five pathologies came into effect in January 2023. To ensure patients and entrepreneurs are empowered with continuity of care and services, it is integral to oversee a smooth transition from the ETAPES experimental program to the new legal framework.
Although telehealth reimbursement is a large step forward, we urge policy makers to consider the breadth of digital health reimbursement beyond telemedicine, so that more healthtech technologies can be offered a pathway for reimbursement and more patients can reap the benefits of what digital health has to offer.
We invite you to take a look at the French Fitness Check for a comprehensive overview of the French reimbursement system.