Interviewed by Alison Oates
Pauline Derrien is a manager at Orange Consulting for the E-Health sector. She works extensively with hospitals, pharmaceutical groups and health insurance companies leading their digital transformation. We discussed what innovation looks like in the healthcare sector, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic for medical professionals and how Pauline is striving to make women’s voices heard.
Can you describe your current role as EHealth manager at Orange Consulting?
I have worked for Orange Consulting in the Ehealth sector for 9 years and I have been a manager for a year and a half. Our role is to help our clients from the health sector in their digital transformation. Our customer base is varied; we work with pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, health insurance companies and so our projects vary from developing custom-made solutions such as chatbots to deploying software throughout an organisation.
As a manager, my role can be defined by 3 areas; I sell our consulting projects, I act as a project manager for these projects and I coach the different consultants we work with. The health care team is very small, and so depending on the project I often bring on board other consultants from Orange and guide them throughout the mission. Our approach is unique because we are not healthcare specialists, meaning that we take ideas and inspiration from other sectors which is not something that the healthcare field is used to but is very popular with our clients!
Our approach is unique because we take ideas and inspiration from other sectors which is very popular with our clients
How are new technologies influencing the ehealth sector? What does innovation look like in this field?
The E-health sector is quite late in terms of innovation. A lot of new technologies are being developed for the health sector however because of strict regulations it takes a long time for these technologies to appear on the market. Today, even though you can book a doctor’s appointment or access or medical files online the majority of people do not use this. There are numerous apps that exist to help us track our health, as well as 3D printing which is gaining popularity. However, such technologies are not immediately accepted or promoted by the wider medical community which is why they are only used on a small scale.
In a country like France, where healthcare and social security is heavily funded by the state, new technologies require extensive financial investment which is difficult as budgets are already small and healthcare users are not willing to pay for such services.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, how does the ehealth sector need to respond? What changes would you like to see in the post-covid19 world both in France and internationally?
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated activity for the Ehealth sector. The number of virtual appointments has exploded during the pandemic; even doctors who were previously reluctant have been forced to work this way and have seen that it can be successful.
Secondly, data-sharing should have become more widely used especially for research linked to COVID-19 however we are seeing much reluctance on the part of hospitals and pharmaceutical companies to transfer data and knowledge amongst themselves. Conversely, within organisations we are seeing an increase in shared collaborative tools with many hospitals installing software facilitating collaboration between remote and on-site employees. Finally, during this crisis healthcare professionals have to make quicker decisions which I hope will continue in a post-COVID world.
During this crisis healthcare professionals have to make quicker decisions which I hope will continue in a post-COVID world
More generally, what will the world be like after the Covid-19 crisis according to you?
We have seen a lot of solidarity during this crisis and we should try to keep this in a post-COVID world, not only solidarity between people but also institutions, the public and private sector, and different organisations. I feel that this has been the best response to the crisis but also will be fundamental in moving forward from this pandemic. Meals have been distributed to the homeless, doctors and nurses have received snacks and hand cream to help during their long shifts, which I hope will stay with us.
I had a lot of hope at the beginning of the pandemic that it would help with the green transition, for example the drastic drop in CO2 emissions we have seen. I would like to see a stronger emphasis from governments on this issue to ensure that moving forward all companies and institutions are committed to the ecological transition.
You are now a manager at Orange Consulting. What have you learned since becoming a manager and what has been the biggest challenge?
I was lucky to have a lot of management training when I took on this new role which was very useful. I work in a small team of 8 and manage one consultant, however I trained with Orange managers who lead teams of 40 or 50 people which was a valuable experience. As a manager, I always try to keep in mind four key qualities: common sense, empathy, adaptability and listening. During lockdown, we have been conducting short daily meetings of 30 minutes in our team to help manage our workload but in general our consultants are very autonomous and are used to working independently so thankfully lockdown has not affected our work too much!
As a manager I always keep in mind four key qualities: common sense, empathy, adaptability and listening.
You co-founded the network ‘Femmes de Santé’, a platform for women working in the health sector. Why is it important for you to promote and support the role of women in this industry?
In the health sector, 50% of doctors are women however they represent only 15% of professors of medicine and only 7% of professors of surgery. This is a very clear example of inequality within the health sector and I wanted to try and make a difference. We decided to create a network for healthcare professionals-both men and women- to share ideas and initiatives around supporting women in this sector. We have an annual talent programme including 13 women who are making a difference in their profession.
Last year, for example, we had a participant who created an association for clowns in hospitals as well as a doctor researching rare diseases. The idea is to give visibility to these women and promote the great work they are doing, not only to help other women currently working in this field but also to inspire and encourage young women to work in healthcare.
You are also a strong advocate for more diversity in tech, having played an important role in Double You, Orange’s network for more diversity. Could you tell us more about this initiative and the work you are doing there?
Doubleyou was created in 2011 as a diversity network for Orange Business Services, and I joined the Chair committee in 2016. It is a network created by employees for employees, completely independent of the corporate HR department which for me makes Doubleyou unique. We have three main approaches to support diversity; facilitating access for women to higher jobs, promoting a balance of men and women in all services across the company and also encouraging a stronger balance between professional and private lives.
Our main activity is to organise events for our members (10% are men!), such as breakfast meetings on diversity, workshops on personal development, annual conferences for Women’s Day and networking events with DoubleYou groups internationally.
We usually end our questionnaire with a question from the Proust questionnaire. We picked this one for you: Which living person do you most admire?
I am inspired by many different people, especially those who use personal struggles and resilience to make the world a better place. I was very lucky to visit one of the Généthon laboratories which researches gene therapy for rare diseases. The President of this association, Laurence Tiennot-Herman, is an inspiration for me because of the groundbreaking work she is leading in trying to cure rare diseases.
I am inspired by those who use personal struggles to make the world a better place.