The project is part of the Regional Health Project (Projet Régional de Santé, in French), and more specifically the regional project for health and telemedicine information systems, which the ARS will publish shortly.
The project has four key objectives:
- To facilitate cooperation between the healthcare stakeholders by organising information sharing;
- To optimise resources;
- To reduce inequalities in access to healthcare;
- To improve the quality of life of persons with chronic conditions.
Telemedicine is seen as a strategic tool for developing access to healthcare in territories such as the islands of La Réunion and Mayotte, where healthcare facilities and personnel are unevenly distributed and some locations are extremely remote.
The average number of doctors (GPs and specialists) per inhabitant in La Réunion is lower than that of mainland France, and doctors are mainly located in cities. In Mayotte (which became officially a French Overseas Department on 31 March 2011), the same average is ten times lower than that of mainland France.
In order to implement the project locally, the ARS for the Indian Ocean will call upon the services of the Economic Interest Grouping 'Indian Ocean Telemedicine' (GIE-TOI), an organisation created in 2002. The GIE-TOI has been responsible for piloting the deployment of the infrastructure and services required for the exchange of medical information between the healthcare stakeholders in both La Réunion and Mayotte.
The ARS for the Indian Ocean was created on 1 April 2012. It is in charge of implementing health policy in La Réunion and in Mayotte, in coordination with all stakeholders. It has the ambition of mobilising all available forces to improve the health of the population (1 million persons) as well as the health systems of both islands.