Only 13% of French people own a health-related connected object. However, a survey carried out by IFOP, the French Institute of Public Opinion, indicates that they know just how useful these devices can be. So now it’s time to convince the medical profession.

French people want healthcare professionals to adopt connected objects

Health-related digital devices are struggling to make their mark on the day-to-day lives of people in France, reveals a recent survey carried out by IFOP for PHR, a French association of pharmacists, on how French people see e-pharmacies, e-health, and health-related connected objects. In fact only a minority of French households possess a health-related digital device. Of the 1,001 people aged 18 and over polled in the survey, just 13% said they owned a health-related connected device. The 18-24 year olds use them the most, with one out of three people in this age range owning one. However, it seems that this low percentage of connected device owners is not mainly down to a basic lack of interest. The survey reveals that French people would be happy to incorporate the use of connected objects into their own health regimes, 79% of respondents feeling that this would ensure better medical monitoring. A similar number (73%) believe that using this type of device will foster better interaction with medical practitioners. Moreover, a majority of those polled are convinced that using health-related connected objects would probably give them greater autonomy in managing their own health. So there are several compelling factors here that are likely to lead to an increase in the use of such equipment. However, despite the strong demand for this approach in France, neither pharmacies nor doctors’ practices seem to be in any hurry to integrate e-health digital tools into their procedures.

Healthcare professionals not reacting

The French people surveyed want to see concrete progress in this area. Two thirds of them are in favour of having a digital space in pharmacies where customers/patients could obtain access to advice and information on treatment, dosages, etc and on purchasing medicines – ordering, availability, price, and so on. In addition to a ‘digital area’, 58% of the respondents would like to be able to buy health-related connected objects such as blood pressure monitors and glucose monitors (mentioned by 35%) across the counter at their pharmacy. French people would like to see a wider range of equipment on offer, both in dispensaries and on the Internet. Half of the respondents wanted to be able to renew their medical prescriptions online, and also to be able to order medicines and have them delivered to their homes (39%) or to their pharmacy (35%) for collection. As regards their relationship with healthcare professionals, half of those polled were in favour of having video-conference sessions with their doctor, while 48% said the same thing for their pharmacist.

Streamlining the patient-professional information flow

Some 47% of those polled by IFOP consider that being able to share health-related data with a medical practitioner is a determining factor for buying a connected device. Close to three out of four respondents would be happy to share the data collected by their various connected objects – blood group, heart rate, blood pressure, etc – with healthcare professionals in order to receive personalised advice. It will come as no surprise to learn that half of all respondents believe their doctor is the most competent person to analyse and interpret the data coming from a connected object, rather than a pharmacist. However, this does not mean relegating the pharmacist to an insignificant role: 37% felt that it would be ideal to have the data analysed by both a doctor and a pharmacist. Those polled agreed with the idea of receiving an analysis by SMS or email, a view which indicates real progress in the patient-doctor relationship. Direct, straightforward information flow is seen as the best way of monitoring health. Judging by the results of the IFOP survey, it appears that ‘connected health’ users are now on track to surmount the obstacles which only a couple of years ago were still hampering the development of e-health services in France. The survey shows that mistrust of the use of data and doubts about the reliability of connected objects are beginning to fade.

By Anthéa Delpuech