Virtual surgeries in France

An answer to GP shortage or an online step too far?

Around 700 online medical consultations take place every week in France, with patients using telemedicine booths to talk to doctors via digital link.

Use of telemedicine started in September and 7,939 consultations have since been reimbursed. It followed an agreement with doctors’ unions in June 2018.

The booths are said to be a particular boost in so-called medical deserts – areas suffering from a lack of doctors.

Doctors retiring in rural areas are rarely replaced. There are 102,000 GPs in France, against 70,140 in the UK for around the same populations.

Pharmacies in Roanne and Perpignan have agreed to set up booths where patients can chat with a GP or specialist.

Booths are fitted with stethoscopes and blood pressure monitors. Doctors provide instructions to use them and prescriptions are directly printed by the machine.

We ask two experts if the booths are a real ...

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