French health care companies have faced hard times over the past months with their new transparency obligations. They have been required to declare the equivalent of 18 months (!) of agreements and benefits in a very short period of time.

They were scheduled to disclose this information to the unique state portal the French government had announced, but which ultimately was not in place in time.

As a consequence, the government issued “transitory provisions,” according to which health care companies acting in France had to disclose their information:

  • To the National Medical Association (there are seven of them…)
  • On a dedicated company website some international companies had to put in place on purpose

As a cherry on the cake, the French medical association set up its own template, making compliance again more difficult. Without surprise, as of today, only half of the declarations transmitted were compliant with the French Medical Association’s template.

Things should be changing now as the unique state portal is finally up and running. After a first registration, disclosure of information should become easier.

Registration and authentication

When first connecting to the unique state portal, companies will have to register. They will be required to provide different details such as information on their headquarters, company registration, and contact information, as well as the procedure an HCP will have to follow in order to modify the displayed data. (Note that the transparency disclosure being mandatory, no right of opposition is granted to the HCP as data owner, contrary to general principle of data protection.)

After this first registration, a unique pair user ID/password will be assigned to the company.

Information will remain available on the public state portal for five years, but will be securely stored by the government for 10 years.

Disclosure of information

This new state portal seems to be more “customer friendly” as three possibilities are set up for the disclosure and transfer of data:

  • An online script can be filled in online
  • A specific formatted document can be transferred directly to the website
  • An automatic sending through a web service can also be set up

The transmission is deemed secure and done on an https website. The unique website will in addition have to comply with the French Data Protection Authority-CNIL’s provisions, and avoid any indexing by external search engines.

The specific format that has been set up for the unique state portal is quite similar to the one already established by the French Medical Association. It will almost allow companies to continue working on their previous template.

This unique state portal will be officially launched April 1, 2014 at the latest. It is already accessible to companies at the following address:

https://www.entreprises-transparence.sante.gouv.fr/flow/login.xhtml

Health care companies do not have to continue to add information on their own dedicated transparency website that will have to be maintained for the data disclosed during the “transitory period.”

However, this new state portal should not make companies forget that they need to comply with data protection regulation regarding their obligation to inform the HCPs they are contracting with or paying advantages to, that they are due to disclose data in that respect.