According to an article published on La Dépêche, the use of teleconsultation in France increased by nearly 20% in April 2020. Apart from the influence of the health context, such an increase is also explained by the many advantages that ‘offers telemedicine.
A situation that prompted the French to use teleconsultation
A survey published on the France Assos Santé website and carried out by the CSA Institute during the month of June 2021 is particularly eloquent on the link between the health crisis and the rise of teleconsultation. She thus tells us that just 7% of French people had had recourse to a medical teleconsultation before the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic. For the year 2019, teleconsultation did not represent more than 0.04% of all medical consultations. The arrival of the health crisis in the first half of 2020 in France has profoundly changed the situation. In April 2020, in the heart of the first confinement, the number of teleconsultations rose to 4.5 million. Since then and despite a slight slowdown, the interest of the inhabitants of France has continued. 22% of them admit in particular to having become regular users of this new method of consultation. During the first half of 2021, the number of teleconsultations corresponded to nearly 4.4% of the total medical consultations.
Figures that bear witness to the enthusiasm of the French for teleconsultation
In collaboration with the Odoxa polling institute, the ANS (Digital Health Agency) carried out three barometers. The latter attest that teleconsultation has now become part of the mores of the French. Each of these three surveys was carried out on a sample comprising 2,000 to 3,000 French people, as well as 500 health professionals. They were carried out during the following periods: January 2020, October 2020 (after the first confinement) and January 2021 (after the second confinement). We learn that:
- the patients used teleconsultation 3 times more over a period of one year;
- 73% of French people have a favorable opinion on telemedicine (they were only 60% in 2019);
- 88% of French people who have used teleconsultation appreciated the experience;
- 92% of the inhabitants of France are now familiar with teleconsultation.
For health professionals, the results are also convincing with:
- recourse to teleconsultation which has increased sixfold for general practitioners;
- 64% of doctors who believe that teleconsultation is now part of their professional habits;
- nearly 91 teleconsultations carried out on average by doctors offering this practice.
A success explained by the advantages of teleconsultation
If teleconsultation is winning over more and more patients, it is also because of the many advantages inherent in its use. Opting for an online medical consultation is, among other things, the assurance of:
- Benefit from an improved quality of care: the requirements imposed on the practice of telemedicine are identical to those of a classic consultation. Teleconsultation also allows people with chronic illnesses to benefit from more regular monitoring.
- Do not be hampered by mobility problems: consulting a doctor over the Internet is an advantageous option for people with reduced mobility. Teleconsultation also provides a relevant response to the problem of medical deserts. It is also possible to contact your doctor wherever you are.
- Save time and reduce the risk of contamination: with a medical teleconsultation, you no longer need to wait for a long time in a waiting room with other patients.
If teleconsultation is synonymous with convenience for patients, it also simplifies the life of healthcare professionals. This practice allows physicians in particular to reduce their trips and increase their income. It also helps to establish a direct relationship with patients and to improve communication between professionals.
The promotion of teleconsultation: a major political issue
Despite a clear leap, the practice of teleconsultation still meets with reluctance among some French people. Thus, according to a Harris Interactive survey, nearly 48% of French people in telemedicine deplore the absence of direct contact with a doctor. For the government, efforts still need to be made to get more and more French people to choose teleconsultation. Thus, since September 2018, teleconsultation acts have been reimbursed by the Health Insurance at rates similar to those of a direct consultation. Anxious to promote the relationship between health and digital technologies, the government has also launched a national campaign called “Yes to e-health”. In 2022, a new online public service will be launched, called Mon Espace Santé. Open to all French people, its objective is to allow everyone to be the actor of their health.
The Covid-19 pandemic and the various confinements have encouraged the use of teleconsultation among the French. The government’s desire to promote e-health, as well as its adequacy with current needs, is also helping to make online medical consultation popular with the French.