Lyon based healthcare start-up Plaïad is on a mission to challenge the status quo and change the future of healthcare. We spoke to founder and CEO Jean-Michel Robert, who has been named “Healthcare CEO of the Year – France” in the 2023 Business Worldwide CEO Awards, about the company’s journey so far.

There have been impressive and far-reaching health improvements made over the last century, but health systems have now reached a major turning point. The World Health Organisation says that despite huge advances in modern medicine and health care, we cannot assume that people are healthier in mind and body than they were 100 years ago. The stresses of modern life, combined with the increased availability of processed foods and other lifestyle factors, are pushing health systems all over the world to breaking point.

In Victorian times, the greatest cause of mortality was infectious diseases such as smallpox, tuberculosis and influenza. Today, the burden has shifted to chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and depression, which combined account for over half the burden of disease around the world. This trend is likely to continue unless we can find new ways to address health and wellbeing and empower patients to make informed choices about their own lives.

Whilst it’s true that we are living longer, we are certainly not necessarily healthier or happier. The WHO recommends that since a complex collection of social, physical, economic, cultural and environmental factors influence our wellbeing, all stakeholders must look at health in a broader context. This means examining health care in a person-centred way that both considers the rights and needs of the individual and the capacities of every healthcare service.

Evidence shows that when we look at health more holistically, patient outcomes can be significantly improved. This is not a new concept — Aristotle was the first to recognise that “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts — yet healthcare practitioners still struggle to join up all the dots. Lack of resources and siloed methods of working, many of which have been ingrained over decades, are major barriers to adopting this important “bigger picture” approach to patient care. In order for it to work and truly serve patients — and society as a whole — health services need access to new technologies that allow them to collaborate more effectively, whilst measuring outcomes, streamlining processes and assessing the competencies of all team members. It’s a big ask, but one French company is happy to take on the challenge.

Patient centred healthcare, powered by technology

The Plaïad method focuses on harnessing the power of technology and joining up processes, whilst keeping humanity at the centre. The team is comprised of experts in healthcare, engineering, data mining and digital transformation, all dedicated to making humanity happier, healthier and stronger.

Jean-Michel Robert is no stranger to healthcare. Having spent an illustrious career in pharmaceuticals, his CV reads like a “who’s who” of the industry, with names including Pfizer, Roche, GSK, Merck Serono and VP Canada . He specialises in pharmaceutical strategy and has driven many large-scale products and services to global success. His work covers a range of subjects including infectious diseases, AIDS, cardiology, rheumatology, asthma and other respiratory diseases, as well as neurological and neurodegenerative conditions including Parkinson’s, MS, epilepsy and migraine,

Surprisingly. Jean-Michel didn’t always see himself having a career in healthcare. As a teen he joined a military school, leaving the family home at just 15 with a desire to challenge himself. He later took an MBA at Emlyon Business School but his years of military education still clearly hold a place in his heart and he refers to the friends he made at the time as “brothers”. The camaraderie and sense of community he experienced in the military culture appear to influence the way he works today. Communication is a core element of Plaïad’s approach to healthcare, which is all about facilitating meaningful conversations between clinics, patients and other stakeholders.

Continuous improvement and autonomy

Plaïad is a first of its kind tool that creates a new health and wellness platform through easy to implement, customised solutions that fit in with healthcare providers’ existing ecosystems.

The idea is to have one platform that integrates all processes, from teaching and assessing healthcare professionals to managing patient assessments, follow-ups and outcomes. Plaïad’s consultation management tool aims to organise the teams working around individual patients, while another tool for research analytics allows teams to analyse results faster and use data to compare global results.  The platform has been developed using groundbreaking technology, but as Jean-Michel says, “Our goal is to assist digitally, but technology is just a tool — it can never replace the human element.”

Human rights, dignity and choice

This aligns perfectly with the WHO’s recommendations for a conscious move towards people-centred health care. This new paradigm is rooted in human rights, dignity and choice; in creating a world in which patients have more autonomy over their own health and wellbeing. When healthcare providers work together in harmony and patients are provided with transparent data that allows them to understand their own health — and the role they can take in improving it —  we can create a culture of care that results in better outcomes for individuals, families, communities, health care organisations and economies.

Revolutionising the way people think about healthcare isn’t something that can happen overnight, so Jean-Michel and his team are taking a measured approach. The implementation of the Plaïad platform is being broken down into segments, starting with osteopaths and following with nurses, dietitians and then other healthcare disciplines. Plaïad is currently available in France, but Jean-Michel has global aspirations:  

“We’re just at the beginning of a very exciting journey where healthcare practitioners recognise the importance of patient autonomy and the connection between social aspects and health. We need a more conscious approach to patient care, which takes a view of the whole person and all aspects affecting them, whilst also ensuring all staff receive the right training and have clear lines of communication and access to the data they need to learn and improve. This requires new processes, presented to practitioners in simple ways that work for them. First France, then the world!”

On the road to fundraising

According to Jean-Michel Robert, the success of a start-up is the alliance of heart and reason. That’s why, true to its vision of citizen-focused healthcare, Plaïad is building the rational and financial tool to offer citizens the best of technology, at the service of their own healthcare journeys. 

It all starts with a fund-raising campaign in September 2023, aimed at accelerating the development of its platform for private practitioners. In 2 years’ time, once this first phase has enabled the company to grow, they will light up the second stage of the rocket to develop other care and research tools serving the autonomy, quality of life and health of all fellow citizens.

If this sounds optimistic, Jean-Michel replies “I’m glad to hear it! Today’s world really needs optimism!”

To find out more about Plaïad, visit