Lifen Injects Interoperability into French Healthcare System

The setting is France, but it could be anywhere. The communication lag between a patient’s healthcare providers — and sometimes its total absence — results in inefficiency and rising cost. Against this backdrop, multiple initiatives have been launched in France on a central and regional level; one of the most prominent is Ma Sante 2022, the French government’s national vision of digitally underpinned healthcare delivery. It calls for more equal access to care and closer cooperation between healthcare institutions, among other things, to improve patient outcomes and the healthcare system’s sustainability.

Digitizing Communication

If data can’t flow, caregivers can’t have a 360-degree view on an individual patient, let alone the health of a population. In France, data transmission between doctors and hospitals is still largely letter-based. French digital health data-sharing start-up Lifen, founded in 2015, is changing this. Using multiple electronic messaging protocols, the service acts as a unified inbox for all those involved in healthcare delivery. It receives messages, reports and other documents electronically, and transforms files into structured data by deploying machine learning algorithms trained on over 10 million medical documents. After identifying the intended recipient of a document, the service contacts the relevant healthcare professional and delivers the document automatically in a secure and compliant manner.

Easy Access to Innovation

By using Lifen users have a single access point to multiple functionalities, including third-party apps. Once an organization has installed a connector it can use the service’s offerings, cutting integration time and cost for the healthcare provider while enabling it to access innovation in an effortless and secure way. This is particularly beneficial for providers that still use latency systems that otherwise wouldn’t support data exchange.

Subscriber Boom

Lifen helps to remedy a major problem in the French healthcare system. As of 2020, over 700 of the 2,983 hospitals in France subscribed to Lifen — constituting 34,000 independent practitioners and over a million patients. The service has gathered respectable momentum in the French healthcare market; it claims to support over 2 million patients each month. As a result, Lifen participates in more than 60% of medical record exchanges in France.

Expanding Services and Geographies

Lifen expects innovation to be driven by cloud-based deployments. It focusses its attention on facilitating identity management, onboarding to its platform and developing more capabilities for data analytics and billing.

The company is investigating expanding its services to neighbouring countries — Germany and the UK are on the list of immediate targets. It plans to recruit about 100 staff in Europe in the next 12 months, and in the longer-term aims to expand its digital health infrastructure on a large scale to enable easier access for doctors and faster integration of services into hospital information systems.

Food for Thought

For healthcare systems seeking more seamless transfer of data, Lifen’s approach addresses the need for secure, reliable and compliant transmission. To get a foothold outside the French market, the company needs to understand a country’s healthcare infrastructure and data requirements — only then will it be able to position its services and set the level of integration work required from a hospital or other healthcare organization. Given the growing market of healthcare platform providers, Lifen needs to communicate its strengths clearly and connect at the right level in the healthcare system to get its message across.

The future success of Lifen, especially outside its home market, will depend on the strength of its features and the level of security with which a hospital can connect to its platform. Its growing presence in the UK and Germany suggests that Lifen is on the right track.