French railway to introduce telemedicine booths in 300 stations by 2028

French railway to introduce telemedicine booths in 300 stations by 2028

France's national railway company will deploy telemedicine services in around 300 train stations by 2028, a subsidiary of the SNCF group announced on Friday.

The selected stations to benefit from this initiative will be "located in priority intervention zones and concerted development zones, characterised by insufficient healthcare offerings and difficulty in accessing healthcare," said the subsidiary SNCF Gares et Connexions in a statement.

They identified 1,735 potential train stations.

"Ten million people pass through the stations every day, and 90% of the population lives within 10 km of a station," said Raphaël Poli, the retail director at SNCF Gares et Connexions.

To implement this service, the SNCF subsidiary has chosen Loxamed, a company established in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is owned by the construction equipment rental company Loxam and Capitello Med, which specialises in connected medical solutions.

Loxamed had previously set up COVID-19 testing centres outside major French train stations in 2020.

Initially, the telemedicine spaces will be set up in 15 m2 booths near the entrances to the stations, according to Arnaud Molinié, President of Loxamed, promising "comfortable, welcoming places to effectively manage patients during teleconsultations".

A state-certified nurse will always be present on-site, and the patient will be "examined remotely by a doctor practising in [France]," according to SNCF Gares et Connexions.

Loxamed will reach out to the regional health professional groups to find available independent nurses and liberal doctors "who could make time for this," said Molinié.

The specific locations for these telemedicine spaces will be determined in consultation with the regional health agencies and local authorities.

Appointments can be made on-site or through conventional online medical appointment scheduling platforms.

The price will be at the minimum rate set by the national social security system, according to the statement, and the opening hours will be based on the "flow of travellers" in the designated stations.

The French government has been considering several initiatives to address a doctor shortage, with many people struggling to find a general practitioner.