Thierry Zylberberg, Chief Executive of Orange’s healthcare division, outlines the company’s new strategy and how the market is progressing

Eurocomms.com: Tell us about the recent changes at Orange Healthcare…

Thierry Zylberberg: We spent quite a bit of time earlier this year rethinking our own strategic priorities, and how we want to approach the evolving digital healthcare market.

We now work on the basis of a four-pronged vision of the market, which includes the emergence of new patient care pathways (outpatient care, for example), the digital transformation of the biopharma and medtech industries (new service-based business models), the hosting and adding value to healthcare data, and assisted living and prevention (ageing well at-home).

On the service front, we have been continuing work on Connected Health Centre (CHC), our vendor-neutral, interoperable and cloud-based connected medical devices platform as-a-service, which is really at the heart of our product/solution strategy. 

We enable the collection of patient data from any medical device that is integrated into the solution, so that the data can be securely transmitted across Orange networks and stored in Orange data centres. 

This gives patients, their healthcare providers and partners controlled access to patient data and the association applications. 

The entire solution is compliant with personal medical data protection regulations.  

What revenues is the healthcare arm delivering for Orange now?

Orange does not issue revenue figures for specific vertical markets, but we can say that our healthcare-related activities achieved double-digit, year-on-year growth from 2014 to 2015, a result that we attribute to rising demand for our regulatory-compliant cloud hosting service for the healthcare sector, Flexible Computing Healthcare.

It is Orange’s objective to increase the share of IT services in the Orange Business Services revenue mix by 10 percentage points by 2020. So, as an entity of Orange Business Services, Orange Healthcare will naturally be contributing to this goal. 

The digital transformation of the healthcare sector represents significant potential for the Orange group, as it really leverages our core competencies and assets.

And, elsewhere, the Group has set an ambitious objective of surpassing the billion-euro revenue mark in 2018 for a number of new disciplines where the healthcare industry is a natural fit.

These include connected objects (medical devices that capture and transmit patient data), mobile financial services (health insurance transactions), open innovation (open APIs for scalable m-health, which I talk about later in this article).

What have been the most significant changes in the m-health industry in the past 12 months?

There have been a number of notable developments in terms of partnering. 

The dialogue between various players is becoming increasingly interesting, it is a sign to us that the market is really starting to take shape.

The recently announced partnership between Sanofi and Google is an excellent example of this.

Also, since the beginning of 2015, we have witnessed a rise in the number of RFIs and RFPs issued by pharmaceutical players for digital innovation projects.

We have also seen some very promising examples of mobile-enabled point-of-care solutions and healthcare CRM (to facilitate outpatient care, for example).

This is all good for the m-health industry as a whole, we are starting to see some very interesting and innovative solutions on the market as a result.

In January last year you said there were still a number of hurdles to overcome, particularly around regulation. Have things improved since?

First of all, the new European Data Protection Regulation that is expected to go into effect in 2016, is a welcome development for organisations involved in data processing for scientific research and public health reasons.

This is good news for the advancement of medical science, and so for healthcare in general. 

By enacting a regulation as opposed to a directive as we currently have, data protection laws across the EU member states will be harmonised. 

This is a big leap forward for medical research, preventive medicine, medical diagnosis as well as cross-border healthcare in Europe.

Of course, regulatory reform is not simple, particularly when it comes to healthcare. 

Existing regulations are still a key hurdle for m-health development, particularly when it comes to interoperability: there is an almost total nonexistence of regulatory frameworks addressing interoperability issues and this will hinder the sustainability and scalability of mHealth solutions, both within national borders but also in the context of transnational or cross-border healthcare.  

You mentioned data protection earlier; in the UK recently the details of HIV-positive patients were leaked so it remains an ongoing problem. What steps is Orange Healthcare taking to ensure the privacy of its customers?

Orange’s business is based on upholding our customer’s right to the privacy, security and integrity of their personal data. 

We made a very public announcement around this in November 2013 when Orange’s CEO, Stéphane Richard, officially signed a charter to protect our customers' personal data and privacy.

So, as a ‘trusted operator’, we make it our business to ensure our customers’ data is protected. 

For our healthcare customers (hospitals, patients, doctors, etc.), we go above and beyond the minimum requirements for standard data hosting by ensuring that healthcare data and applications are securely stored under the highest levels of regulatory compliance. 

To this end, we are accredited by France’s Ministry of Health to host personal data. 

This accreditation represents a 1,700 page document that assigns Orange with the broadest scope of personal health data storage options under French law, the most stringent transposition of the EU directive dealing with personal data, and which provides authorisations for the hosting, backup, storage, and legal archiving of personal health data from patients in any EU state. 

We seek this type of regulatory compliance and operational excellence in each region where we host personal health data.

What's your most important goal for the next 12 months?

Naturally, growing the business and building on existing foundations are our main concerns. 

We have a number of ambitious pilot projects and trials currently on the go, and we are working hard to bring these to market within the coming months.

Photo courtesy of Orange Healthcare

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