Healthcare in France vs in the US

I came across a really good clip on the comparison of healthcare in France and its counterpart in the US. I urge you to have a listen.

Granted, it’s impossible to have a 100% apple-to-apple comparison between any two countries. However, I think France is a good reference since 1) it is a developed country like the US and 2) it receives a lot of immigrants from other countries, especially from Africa due to geographical proximity. I once listened to a doctor opine that immigrants are the primary cause of the healthcare system. I think it’s false, but having France as a yardstick will, to some extent, take out that element.

According to the clip, France spends around $4,900 per capita every year while the figure in the US is $10,200. Despite spending more, the US delivers worse results whether it’s in infant mortality rate, life expectancy and rate of rehospitalization.

Furthermore, the clip mentioned the higher taxes French citizens have to pay in order for the government to cover the social security. The government is like a business. To cover expenses, it needs to have capital. It can’t print money to cover the costs nor run at deficit forever. To finance the social security, the money has to come from taxes. Even though the French pay more taxes, they don’t have to bankrupt themselves whenever care is needed. On the other, I think that Americans focus too much on lowering taxes and when the federal budget runs red, the government starts to look at where to cut. If it’s not military, then social security is the next big ticket item.

Between paying more in taxes like the French do and paying less in taxes while bankrupting myself like we do in the US, I know my choices. I don’t think having a carbon copy of the French healthcare in the US is without difficulty. Healthcare is an incredibly complex issue and any solution is almost guaranteed to carry baggage and influence other issues such as taxes, minimum wage, etc…However, I also believe that there are plenty of things we can learn from the French.

Security in healthcare

IT enables increased productivity in every industry, including healthcare. As more processes become digitalized, organizations are more prone to security breaches than ever. As patients entrust organizations with their sensitive data, it is the organization’s responsibility to protect the data from either internal or external threats. While the industry has been suffering from many breaches over the past years, it doesn’t seem that there is much progress.

According to 2018 HIMSS Cybersecurity Survey, 42% of the interviewed organizations spent less than 6% of their IT budget on cybersecurity. Regarding security staff, 51% of the interviewees in ISACA’s State of Cybersecurity Report 2018 took from 3 to 6 months to fill a security position.

Protenus reported that there were 5.579 million patient records breached in 2017. In the first two quarters of 2018, the figure already reached 4.27 million (1.13m in Q1 and 3.14m in Q2). Let’s assume that a breached record costs $300 in ransom, lost reputation from customers, regulatory fines, etc… (which is lower than an estimated figure of $380 by IBM). In 2018 so far, healthcare industry’s breaches cost more than $1.2 billion.

The cybersecurity threat to industries, especially heavily regulated ones such as healthcare, is already high. It will be even higher as organizations look to IoT for innovation and enhanced customer experiences. IoT will lead to many touchpoints through which threats can penetrate a system.

I hope that organizations will pay more attention to and spare more resources on security to protect patients’ sensitive data. After all, it is in their interest. In addition to ransom, regulatory fines and damaged reputation, it costs 6 times more to get a new customer than to retain one.