France has become the first European country to reimburse the costs associated with remote monitoring of patients with chronic medical conditions. The initiative aims to reduce hospitalizations and enhance patient well-being.
Starting from July 1, the country's health insurance scheme, Assurance Maladie, has begun refunding the expenses incurred during these remote checks, which are sometimes conducted through video calls.
What is medical remote monitoring?
Medical remote monitoring, known as "télésurveillance médicale" in French, involves the use of video or biomedical devices to allow healthcare professionals to monitor a patient's condition. This can include devices such as glycemic monitors, pacemakers, or other biomedical tools.
It's important to note that télésurveillance médicale differs from téléconsultation, which refers to doctor appointments conducted via video. However, video calls may be incorporated into medical remote monitoring if necessary.
Distance monitoring eliminates the need for patients to make frequent in-person visits to healthcare practitioners or rush to the hospital in case of an issue. Instead, patients may need to perform specific regular tasks at home and report the results to their doctor. For instance, they might be required to measure their blood pressure, monitor their weight, and complete a brief questionnaire every week, with the data being sent to their doctor.
One patient, Jean-Louis Bernard, aged 74 from Caen, shared his experience with Le Monde, stating, "When you have a chronic illness, your condition can rapidly deteriorate, and if you're not careful, you may end up in the emergency room, even after consuming a meal that's too salty. Thanks to this tool, medical teams can respond to even the slightest alert and advise me remotely."
His wife, Michelle, emphasized the invaluable assistance provided by remote monitoring, as it has prevented Jean-Louis from being hospitalized since he started using it, whereas hospitalizations were previously frequent.
Why has reimbursement been extended to all individuals in need?
The decision to make remote monitoring reimbursements accessible to all aims to achieve the following objectives:
- Enhance the quality of care for patients undergoing distance monitoring.
- Reduce hospitalizations and emergency room admissions by enabling patients to receive care at home.
- Update healthcare processes and enhance care organization.
- Improve patients' quality of life and overall comfort.
Which conditions are eligible for distance monitoring?
Since 2014, remote medical monitoring has been covered on an experimental basis under the ETAPES program (Experiments de télémédecine pour l'amélioration des parcours en santé) for the following five conditions:
- Chronic respiratory failure
- Chronic heart failure
- Chronic renal failure
Cardiac arrhythmia requiring cardiac prostheses
The ETAPES program has now concluded, and distance monitoring can be implemented for any patients whose healthcare professionals determine the necessity, particularly for those who are at risk of hospitalization or health complications. The Ministry of Health has emphasized that patients must be fully informed about the process and provide their consent for monitoring.
Which healthcare professionals can offer télésurveillance?
According to Assurance Maladie, any doctor can refer a patient for remote monitoring. However, only healthcare professionals "whose specialities are referred to in the ministerial decrees registering telemonitoring activities, whatever their sector of practice and their place of practice” are authorized to carry out remote medical monitoring. These professionals can operate from general practitioner surgeries, nursing homes, health centers, hospitals, or clinics.
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