This press release is published together with La Croix-Rouge and H4D.
H4D, CNP Assurances and the French Red Cross are joining the national effort by setting up a telemedicine booth at the CRF Healthcare Centre in Villeneuve-la-Garenne in the Paris region to facilitate access to healthcare amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.
Falling in with the organisation of outpatient care during the COVID-19 crisis, the French Red Cross in partnership with CNP Assurances set up a H4D Consult Station® on 20 March in its healthcare centre in Villeneuve-la-Garenne, a region identified as a medical wasteland due its dire shortage of general practitioners.
With hospitals in several regions of France overcrowded by patients suffering from COVID-19, the Government encourages people to turn to town practices to take some pressure off emergency numbers. In Villeneuve-la-Garenne, as in other regions that qualify as medical wastelands, getting access to a general practitioner is something of an obstacle course. Desertification is accelerating dangerously. In a period of five years, six doctors in the region have ceased their practice. Only eleven remain for 25,000 inhabitants (apart from the Red Cross centre), and over half of these doctors will be retiring within the next five years.
Consulting a doctor through telemedicine is a complementary solution for fighting the epidemic, but access via platforms is difficult for people who do not have a smartphone, PC or tablet computer, or who are not familiar with new technologies.
To address the needs of these patients during the current health crisis, the Red Cross decided to set up a Consult Station®, a veritable connected doctor’s office, with the help of H4D and CNP Assurances.
Laëtitia Berrar, Head of Healthcare Centres and CeGIDD IDF, says: “COVID-19 is pushing healthcare providers to offer a solution that is adapted to the numerous demands from patients. Considering the medical demographics of the sector, this medical device will provide a backup for the town’s healthcare offer. The doctors here are very busy and, working in an under-provided area, it is a challenge for them to meet all demands. Now with the epidemic, this new response provides tangible support for everyone.”
The Consult Station® is set up in a consulting room of the healthcare centre, allowing patients to consult general practitioners in their region from a distance. The doctors are currently being trained by the H4D medical department on how to do a remote medical consultation and how to use the booth, the associated software and instruments.
During the consultation, the patient is assisted by a nurse, to help and reassure them. With the variety of measuring instruments in the booth, the doctor can carry out a clinical examination, make a diagnosis from a distance, and, if necessary, give the patient a prescription. Depending on the diagnosis, a follow-up visit can be scheduled.
Besides the direct benefits of having access to a doctor at a time when healthcare establishments and medical practices in town are saturated, this solution also protects patients and healthcare professionals by limiting contact, particularly in the current context of coronavirus disease.
“During an epidemic, organising patient care upstream of emergency units and maintaining healthcare continuity is a priority. The greater flexibility for telemedicine promulgated by France’s Health Minister, as well as the 100% Health Insurance coverage of teleconsultation fees, is a real solution that helps to alleviate emergencies, take care of patents, and protect healthcare staff. H4D is taking part in the national effort by offering its solution to healthcare structures and patients, even the most vulnerable among them,” Dr Franck Baudino, practitioner and founder of H4D points out.
Patients can access the service by appointment and a specific arrangement for the COVID-19 situation. A nurse first assesses the situation by telephone, before orienting the patient to a medical teleconsultation in the booth depending on their symptoms.
This trial is a new, concrete example of public-private partnership that provides an immediate answer to the growing demand for healthcare during the epidemic, and in the longer term, the question of access to healthcare in the region.
“As a personal insurer, it is only natural that we are taking part in this innovative trial alongside the Red Cross and H4D, and that we are contributing to the national effort to fight the COVID-19 epidemic. We have been working with H4D since 2016 through our Open CNP programme that supports the growth of innovative start-ups, and we are convinced that, in the long term, the Consult Station® will contribute to healthcare continuity and provide an answer to the problems of medical wastelands,” says Sarah Bouquerel, Head of Strategic Activities and Relationships with the La Banque Postale Group of CNP Assurances and Chairperson of Open CNP.
How does the Consult Station® work?
The Consult Station® allows patients to take their own measurements (weight, height, BMI, temperature, oxygen saturation, heart rate, blood pressure, etc.), guided by a video tutorial. At the end of the session, the patient receives a printout of their readings. The solution also offers the possibility of a video-call teleconsultation with a doctor. With the variety of measurement instruments in the office, the doctor can carry out a clinical examination, diagnose from a distance, and, if necessary, give a prescription.
The Consult Station® is an EC-certified Class IIa medical device that complies with strict health requirements with regard to the epidemic: between two visits, a full biocleaning is performed by healthcare professionals from the healthcare centre to disinfect the booth (biocleaning EN 14476). It also complies with the legal and regulatory framework on the protection, privacy and hosting of personal health data (GDPR).