MAINTENANCE – Carla Gomes, health director of Docaposte, the digital subsidiary of the La Poste group, underlines the importance of the strategic use of data in the medical sector.
LE FIGARO. – Why is La Poste, known for its historical activities as a postal operator and its banking and insurance services, so interested in health?
Carla GOMES. – The Covid crisis has revealed the dysfunctions of our health system. Faced with the aging of the population, the growing incidence of chronic diseases, the difficulties of access to care, the need to develop solutions was essential. As a local player, La Poste has invested in this field of health by promoting the maintenance of patients at home, with medical surveillance activities to monitor patients remotely and adapt care. With Docaposte, the group’s digital subsidiary, we are now seeking to simplify the patient journey, by facilitating the process of managing the collection of medical consent, data sharing, access to the shared medical file… At the same time, La Poste continues to mobilize its “traditional” logistics know-how by transporting medicines. Finally, let’s not forget the key role that the group plays in the health sector through its financing activities. All this forms a coherent whole.
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Docaposte has distinguished itself through a series of recent acquisitions in the e-health sector, through the creation of a “data and AI” division… What is your strategy?
Our growth strategy aims to support the digital transformation of the healthcare system. This begins with optimizing the logistics of hospital operations and improving patient care. The last stage is innovation in favor of clinical research. Concretely, the valuation of data from the various players in the health ecosystem can enable laboratories to accelerate the marketing of new drugs for the benefit of patients.
The interest of data remains little perceived by the general public. How is this decisive for the health of tomorrow?
If the issue remains poorly perceived, it is that we must now go beyond the stage of digitization, to move towards an intelligent use of data. Adapting tools to digitalization is one thing; the real challenge for the next few years is the processing and strategic use of data. Data for data’s sake is not enough. The objective is to give an increased capacity to humans through data. Attention, it is not a question of replacing doctors by machines! But health professionals must have all the relevant information to make the best decisions. On this point, the government has made good progress with the “Ségur de la santé”. And, for several years, La Poste has offered a sovereign, secure framework to facilitate this sharing of information between the many players in the sector: establishments, hospitals, start-ups, etc.
How can the sovereignty and security of particularly sensitive medical data be guaranteed?
These are two different issues, although they are both essential. Sovereignty implies guaranteeing technological and financial independence vis-à-vis foreign players who do not necessarily comply with the same standards. It is with this in mind that La Poste has launched, in partnership with Dassault Systèmes, Bouygues Telecom and the Banque des Territoires, a 100% French trusted cloud, Numspot. In terms of safety, we must underline the good fortune we have, in France, of having an already highly developed regulatory framework. In addition to the GDPR and the Cnil, there are regulations on the hosting of health data: the fact of specifically considering health data is a French exception. But it is still necessary to associate with this regulatory framework requiring respect for ethical principles and to have trusted platforms. Here we find the historical DNA of La Poste. For several centuries, La Poste has guaranteed its users the confidentiality of postal exchanges! Today, 45 million patient pharmaceutical records are housed in our data centers.
What are the next steps?
La Poste intends to continue its strategic progress in healthcare. We aim to become an essential partner in health data analysis, thanks to our Agoria Health platform, a health data warehouse created in June 2021 in partnership with AstraZeneca and Impact Healthcare.
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What do you think is the essential issue of the digital transformation in health?
Digital should not be perceived as an additional technical constraint, but as an increased capacity. The first objective of digital transformation is to free up time for doctors, time that will be reallocated for the benefit of the patient. Contrary to dehumanization, it is a question of putting the patient back at the heart of his care pathway.