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HEALTH

EXPLAINED: France’s new digital health space Mon Espace Santé

The health minister says it's a 'new step in the development of digital health' - but what exactly is Mon espace santé and what should you do with letters and emails you get about it?

A general practitioner checks a patient's blood pressure
Photo: Fred TANNEAU / AFP

After a slow start, France has gone all-in on the digital world. It’s increasingly becoming easier to carry out a host of administrative tasks, from banking to applying for a driving licence from the comfort of home via your computer or smartphone.

And now it’s the turn of healthcare, with health minister Olivier Véran announcing the creation of Mon espace santé.

If you’re registered in the French health system you will receive either a letter or email about this in the days to come, so here’s what it is and what you need to do next.

What is Mon espace santé?

It’s basically, a new digital iteration of the carte vitale health card, with added extras.

It gives holders a secure and easy-to-access online space in which they can add and consult their documents and health information and share them with the healthcare professionals as required.

What data does a Mon espace santé account hold? 

In short, medical documents such as prescriptions, the results of examinations and analyses, medical images and hospitalisation reports. 

The majority of health data will be entered by health professionals, but a patient can add to their file information including family history details, allergies, vaccinations, treatments in progress and so on.

It is also possible to share a summary of your profile with health professionals.

But I already have a Shared Medical Record (Dossier médical partagé, or DMP), do I need this too?

Anyone who has a Shared Medical Record (DMP), can still use it. All of the data on the DMP will be transferred to Mon espace santé. 

Who will have access to this health data?

Only health professionals and the holder. As soon as a healthcare professional or establishment accesses the health documents of a patient for the first time, the latter is automatically notified. 

The connection history, with the name of the professional, the document consulted, the date and time, is also available. 

The right of access to information is explained in this document (pdf) which set out what data is accessible according to profession or their speciality. For example, an optician cannot access a report on the delivery of a baby.

READ ALSO Americans in France: What’s the deal with health insurance?

Assumed consent

The doctor listed as the patient’s médecin traitant (registered doctor or GP) – for obvious reasons – has access to all the information in the file.

It is also assumed that healthcare teams directly involved in the care of a patient, such as in the case of a medical emergency, can have access to the data.

Medical professionals who are not part of a patient’s care team must obtain the patient’s prior consent, verbally or in writing, to consult their digital file. 

Will insurance companies have access to the data?

No. 

Any consultation of the information in anyone’s personal Mon espace santé space not motivated by medical reasons can lead to criminal sanctions.

Can I deny a medical professional access to my file?

At any time, a patient can block or unblock access to their medical file by a healthcare professional. On the other hand, except for a very limited number of ‘legitimate reasons’, you cannot refuse an authorised professional to add information useful for the prevention, continuity and coordination of care. 

Under 18s who wish to keep information concerning their sexual health confidential can refuse to have this information listed in their digital file.

How to activate your account

Between now and March, every one who holds a carte vitale will receive a letter from l’Assurance-maladie (Ameli), the Health Ministry or Mutualité sociale agricole inviting them to activate their digital medical file via the monespacesante.fr website using their carte vitale and a provisional, time-limited, code.

READ ALSO Ameli: How to create your online French social security account

For children, the letters will be sent to the parent on whose card they are listed.

The provisional code is valid for six weeks. If it is allowed to lapse, a new code can be generated by completing an online form. 

The site can be accessed via computer, smartphone or tablet. An app is being developed, and anyone without access to the Internet can ask for help at their local France Services counter, or by contacting their local CPAM.

READ ALSO What is France Connect and how could it make your life simpler?

Can I refuse to have an account?

Mon espace sante accounts are actually created automatically. But you have the choice to close them within six weeks of receiving your letter. To do so you will have to access the account, then demand it is closed down.

After that, you will have to contact the support line by phone on 34 22, or via Ameli or your primary insurance fund.

And what about the future?

The Mon espace santé site hosts a secure messaging service, through which holders and healthcare professionals can exchange information. 

A calendar to manage medical appointments, with reminders about check-ups, screenings and vaccinations is planned; as are systems to allow virtual consultations and monitor chronic illnesses.

READ ALSO How to use: French medical website Doctolib

Is all this data secure?

An important question. 

All the data stored in every patient’s personal space on the monespacesante.fr site is protected and secured by the government, the Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés (CNIL) and the Caisse nationale d’assurance maladie (Cnam), which oversees France’s compulsory health insurance schemes. 

All data is hosted in France by two subcontractors,  Atos and Santeos

But, any data is only as secure as its weakest link – which often is the user. So, choose a secure password, and don’t access your personal space using an unprotected public wifi network. Health information is big business for criminals. Don’t make it easy for them.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid rules: Travelling abroad from France this summer

There's been plenty written on travel rules for people coming to France - but what if you live in France and have plans for international travel over the coming months? We've got you covered.

Covid rules: Travelling abroad from France this summer

France isn’t currently on the Covid red list for any country, so there is nowhere that is barred to you as a French resident, but different countries still have different entry requirements.

EU/Schengen zone

If you’re travelling to a country that is within the EU or Schengen zone then it’s pretty straightforward.

If you’re fully vaccinated then all you need is proof of vaccination at the border – no need for Covid tests or extra paperwork. Bear in mind, however, that if your second dose was more than nine months ago you will need a booster shot in order to still be considered ‘fully vaccinated’. 

READ ALSO Everything you need to know about travel to France from within the EU

If you were vaccinated in France then you will have a QR code compatible with all EU/Schengen border systems. If you were vaccinated elsewhere, however, your home country’s vaccination certificate will still be accepted.

If you’re not fully vaccinated you will need to show a negative Covid test at the border, check the individual country for requirements on how recent the test needs to be.

Bear in mind also that several EU countries still have mask/health pass rules in place and some countries specify the type of mask required, for example an FFP2 mask rather than the surgical mask more common in France. Check the rules of the country that you are travelling to in advance.

If you’re travelling to a country covered by The Local, you can find all the latest Covid rules in English on the homepages for Austria, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden or Switzerland.

UK

The UK has no Covid-related travel rules, so there is no requirement for tests even if you are not vaccinated. The passenger locator form has also been scrapped – full details HERE.

Once there, there are no Covid-related health rules in place. 

If you’re travelling between France and the UK, remember the extra restrictions in place since Brexit.

USA 

Unlike the EU, the USA still has a testing requirement in place, vaccinated or not. You would need to show this prior to departure.

It has, however, lifted the restrictions on non citizens entering, so travel to the USA for tourism and visiting friends/family is once again possible.

For full details on the rules, click HERE.

Once there, most places have lifted Covid-related rules such as mask requirements, but health rules are decided by each State, rather than on a national level, so check in advance with the area you are visiting.

Other non-EU countries

Most non-EU countries have also lifted the majority of their Covid related rules, but in certain countries restrictions remain, such as in New Zealand which is reopening its border in stages and at present only accepts certain groups.

Other countries also have domestic Covid restrictions in place, particularly in China which has recently imposed a strict local lockdown after a spike in cases.

Returning to France

Once your trip is completed you will need to re-enter France and the border rules are the same whether you live here or not.

If you’re fully vaccinated you simply need to show your vaccination certificate (plus obviously passport and residency card/visa if applicable) at the border.

If you’re not vaccinated you will need to get a Covid test before you return and present the negative result at the border – the test must be either a PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours or an antigen test taken within the previous 48 hours. Home-test kits are not accepted.

If you’re returning from an ‘orange list’ country and you’re not vaccinated you will need to provide proof of your ‘essential reasons’ to travel – simply being a resident is classed as an essential reason, so you can show your carte de séjour residency card, visa or EU passport at the border.

Even if the country that you are in is reclassified as red or orange while you are away, you will still be allowed back if you are a French resident. If you’re not a French passport-holder, it’s a good idea to take with you proof of your residency in France, just in case.

Fully vaccinated

France counts as ‘fully vaccinated’ those who:

  • Are vaccinated with an EMA-approved vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson)
  • Are 7 days after their final dose, or 28 days in the case of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines
  • Have had a booster shot if more than 9 months has passed since the final dose of your vaccine. If you have had a booster shot there is no need for a second one, even if more than 9 months has passed since your booster
  • Mixed dose vaccines (eg one Pfizer and one Moderna) are accepted 
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