Taking action with patients and doctors to contribute to healthcare advances, this is Air Liquide’s ambition. For several years, the Group has been developing innovative patient centric solutions, which improve their therapeutic follow-up and quality of life. This momentum has been driven by major trends: an aging population, greater demand for home healthcare and the development of digital technology which is revolutionizing medicine. Three trends, confirmed by the health crisis, that have transformed the world of healthcare and the lives of millions of people. The Covid-19 pandemic has, indeed, reinforced the need for a more personalized approach to patient care for those suffering from chronic diseases that are treated at home (respiratory failure, sleep apnea , diabetes, Parkinson's disease).The crisis thus contributed to developing outpatient care1.
The Group, faced with the urgency of the situation , was instantly mobilized to face the healthcare challenges. “To assist patients suffering from Covid-19 or other chronic illnesses and to reduce the load on hospitals, we have introduced new solutions including flexible protocols, digital monitoring tools, remote consultations, coordinating care and multidisciplinary teamwork,” explains Dolores Paredes, Head of Markets, Strategy and Innovation at Air Liquide’s Healthcare business line. In France, for example, Air Liquide and AP-HP2 have introduced a new solution: remote monitoring, via a mobile application, of Covid-19 patients receiving oxygen therapy in their homes after being discharged from the hospital. “ Patients have emerged from this crisis with a greater role to play in their own healthcare. This is a trend that we wish to accelerate and support,” analyzes Dolores. The Group’s strength to sustain this momentum is the presence of specialized teams, in close proximity to their patients at home. These teams are the best placed to be able to offer personalized care, which contributes to the improvement of patients’ therapeutic follow-up and quality of life.
“In Europe, doctors and healthcare coverage organizations are becoming increasingly interested in providing global support to patients which focuses on the results of their treatment. We are even seeing experiments into reimbursement based on the results achieved for patients and their health, rather than a standard fee for all.”
“This continuous dialogue with patients confirms the idea that a new approach to healthcare in which they have their place in the decision making process is essential,” continues Dolores Paredes. “The question is no longer only how many treatments are required but also to discuss with doctors what is most important in the patient’s view. Do they want to return home soon to be with their loved ones? Receive support regarding continuing long-term treatment? Have more contact with health professionals? Our strategy is to develop an approach to healthcare which is based on the results that are important to the patient, balanced against the cost of achieving them.”
In practical terms, this requires a holistic continuum of care which combines a close relationship with patients in their homes with multidisciplinary teams (doctors, nurses, technicians, etc.) and digital innovations that can continuously assess benefits for the patients.
These are key to developing a personalized approach to treatment, in cooperation with the prescribing doctor. An approach which takes into account a patient’s physiological data, lifestyle and family situation. In this respect, the patient is at the heart of the system, and the entire healthcare ecosystem benefits from this: the doctor can rely on Air Liquide’s teams to monitor the observance of treatment, healthcare coverage organizations see a significant decrease in the cost of overall care and pressure is taken off the hospitals.
“Supporting our teams to help them identify the true expectations of our patients as best as possible. This is the first step in our transition toward a value-based approach. We are working with doctors and nurses to identify the benefits of the approach, both for their patients and for healthcare systems in Northern European countries.”
“At Air Liquide, we have launched an ambitious program to transform our activities in order to introduce this new value-based approach. Twelve of the Group’s countries in Europe have set their own targets in terms of optimizing the continuum of care, creating specialized offers for each pathology and forming strategic partnerships, as it is important to bring together the entire ecosystem,” explains Dolores Paredes. The success of this international project depends, in particular, on the creation of a digital platform to facilitate the measurement and monitoring of results from the care provided and the related costs.
Several initiatives have already been launched in all of these countries. For example, in Sweden, our subsidiary Nordic Infucare has launched Birgitta, a services transformation program for patients suffering from diabetes or Parkinson's disease. For the latter, the new and resolutely proactive care model focuses on the “3Ps”: Prediction (when the patient requires care and attention), Prescription (what is the most suitable treatment) and Prevention (how to slow the progression of the illness). “Our flagship program, and the most advanced, PIMA3, has been endorsed by the Value Based Healthcare Center Europe4,” welcomed Dolores Paredes. This program is based on an obvious observation: each patient with sleep apnea is different, therefore why offer the same support to them all? By customizing the approach, the goal is to increase the adherence to treatment and ultimately improve the patient's quality of life. This initiative, which was first launched in Spain, has already been adapted for patients in Portugal, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands. In France, an agreement with the Chair of “Innovation and Value in Health” at the University of Paris School of Medicine has been reached, aimed at supporting academic research into this new approach, in particular for chronic diseases. At the same time, patients in ten countries have been surveyed in order to better understand their expectations in terms of results. After all, surely the patients are the best placed to teach us how to restore meaning and value to care? The floor is theirs. And this is just the beginning.
The Healthcare activity at Air Liquide
Air Liquide provides medical products and services to meet the needs of patients, doctors, care facilities and the healthcare system as a whole. Present in both hospitals and patients' homes, the Group is a committed partner of transformation in the healthcare sector.
1. Change in the health system aimed at better coordinating interventions by the medical sector, hospital-based medicine and home healthcare across each stage of a patient’s continuum of care. This change relies, in particular, on care protocols for patients outside of the traditional framework of full hospitalization.
2. Assistance publique – Hôpitaux de Paris: French public healthcare institutions.
3. A personalized program for improved patient adherence.
4. A European organization which brings together healthcare players (doctors, patient associations, universities, industrial players, insurers, etc.) with the aim of encouraging the implementation of a renewed healthcare approach based on value, through the development of new methods and by sharing best practices among healthcare players.
Article published on August 12, 2021