Things I wish would happen in this decade

I am about a few days late into 2020 for this kind of activity, but who cares? What makes it personally tricky for me is to balance between imagination and reality, wishes and my estimation of feasibility. I gave it some thoughts and here are a few things that I wish would happen in this decade.

Higher public transportation usage

I am a big fan of public transportation. If done right, what’s there not to like about it? Having lived in Vietnam and the US, which are not known for public transit, I wish there would be a dramatic increase in the use of buses, metros and trains in exchange for a reduction in car ownership and usage.

Converting image and voice to processible data

A lot of information is stored in oral content and images. Nowadays, it is possible to extract such information, yet it takes a lot of time and resources. 10 years from now, I definitely wish that it would be a lot easier and cheaper.

Change of focus in public education

More attention to personal finance, reading, writing, literature, nutrition, cooking and life skills please

Code by voice

I was running into a coding problem at work lately. It was more of a data manipulation kind. The task could be done at the expense of a great deal of effort. It made me wonder how better it would be if we could dictate computers to execute low-level code. Of course, we can’t just tell computers to “write me an Airbnb application”. Such a task as “get me the accounts that were inactive for the last three months but active for more than three months within the last year” or “compare for me the spend of customers at stores during the holiday season year over year”. That would be tremendously helpful for our society.

Augmented presentation of content

I struggled to label this one. I didn’t know how to call it exactly. We all have seen it in movies. One flick of the fingers and more information is presented in 3D in front of our eyes, like this picture below from Avengers. Imagine if at work we could just get the graphs from Excel, use our hands to place them into Power Point, seize them by our will easily and write the caption by voice. The productivity would increase by multiple folds

Tony Stark studying the Tesseract in 'The Avengers.'
Source: Venture Capital Post

Venture into space

The Earth surface isn’t expanding, yet human race is. We already exceeded the 7 billion mark and I wouldn’t be surprised if we surpassed the 8 billion mark ten years from now. That puts a lot of pressure on Mother Nature and ourselves. We need nature which doesn’t need us. Hence, I wish to see more ventures into space to see what is out there.

More people will have access to sufficient healthcare and fewer will die from diseases that are terminal today

Healthcare in America is ridiculously expensive. Some drugs like insulin can bankrupt patients and so can a trip to an ER. Folks in poor countries crave for access to better care and there are still diseases against which we seem powerless. I wish there would be some advances on healthcare universally.

I would love to have more peace, kindness, compassion and empathy in the world. Sadly, I fear that would be hard. I fear that isolationism and nationalism will rise. I fear that the ugly side of the world won’t get much prettier. My hope is that the mechanism that brings the ugliness to daylight will be used to shed more light to the beauty of the world.

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.