It will serve as a storage space to keep a person’s medical documents together as well as a messaging function for patients and healthcare professionals to contact each other.
This is different from the old (optional) digital personal medical record of the Shared Medical File (DMP) in France, which is being phased out, as the DMP is mainly used only by medical staff and not by the patient.
The hope with the change is that there will be a better dialogue between patients and the doctors who care for them.
People who do not wish to use the new online space will have one month to request its closure after being notified of the plan to create a space for them by mail or email. If you do not respond to this request, it will be created.
Health Minister Olivier Véran declared on October 18: “As you can imagine, it will take time for everyone to get used to it and learn to use it, but it will be a very positive little revolution. in the domain of health.
The tool has already been tested in the departments of Haute-Garonne, Somme and Loire-Atlantique.
The government plans to invest 650 million euros in the project over five years and this will be part of the 7.5 billion euros investment in health innovation announced in June.
Cyber attacks on hospitals skyrocket during health crisis
However, the announcement comes following high profile medical data thefts in France this year.
On September 15, L’Assistance publique-Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP) announced that 1.4 million patients had been victims of data theft since spring 2021, and on September 21, President Emmanuel’s digital health pass Macron was leaked online.
Journalist Coralie Lemke told franceinfo that putting medical data online makes them “more vulnerable. It is becoming more accessible for healthcare workers, but also for many other people who are interested in it.
She said that while individual data points are not particularly valuable, the aggregate data of thousands or even millions of individuals is highly sought after by cybercriminals.
“Their goal is to hack healthcare facilities to steal healthcare data and sell it on the dark web or use it for ransom,” she said.
At the start of the health crisis, cyber attacks on hospitals in France skyrocketed between February and March 2020, as cybercriminals realized that hospitals were under increased pressure, making them more vulnerable.
In 2020, 192 cyber attacks were carried out against hospitals in France, up from 54 the previous year.
Data required for medical research
It is also less and less possible to withhold health data. It is estimated that two-thirds of French people have an online Doctolib account to help them make medical appointments, and vital cards must be scanned so that people are reimbursed for medical treatments.
Ms Lemke said: “For our health data to be protected, we need a system of comprehensive and robust laws that specify their collection and use… and those laws must be enforced. “
However, she added that not all data collections were negative. In many cases, access to data leads to huge advances in research and medical care.
This is the case with pharmaceutical companies “which must go through several stages of clinical trials to develop treatments. It takes time and money, but it’s much faster if it starts with data analysis.
Laboratories often use “data brokers” to obtain anonymized data from healthcare organizations.
This is also the case with tech giants like Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Google which use medical data for research purposes.
Ms Lemke said: “They offer their technical expertise to universities or research centers looking for algorithms to sort data. A study found that artificial intelligence developed by Google could detect breast cancer more accurately than radiologists.
“France must stop rushing to put essential public services online”