While many of President Emmanuel Macron’s policies have been criticised in France its citizens, prompting the country’s yellow vest movement, Macron is at least working towards improving the healthcare system
While many of President Emmanuel Macron’s policies have been criticised by French citizens, prompting the country’s yellow vest movement, Macron is at least working towards improving the healthcare system. In September 2018, the president announced plans to make France’s healthcare system more efficient and sustainable over the next 50 years.
Healthcare in France is already among the best in the world, according to several sources. In fact, World Health Organisation report of 191 countries ranked France’s healthcare system No. 1 in the world in 2000. More recently, a study funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and published by the British medical journal The Lancet placed France at No. 15. The study measured the quality and accessibility of healthcare systems in 195 countries.
Thanks to technological advances, the global healthcare industry is rapidly changing, and France is embracing those changes. Telemedicine and other forms of digital technology are being used in a variety of settings, and wearable diagnostic devices are becoming more commonplace. In combination with Macron’s healthcare improvement plan, modern technology may help keep France firmly situated as a leader in the global healthcare industry.
Macron’s Improved Healthcare Plan
While unveiling his plan, Macron said that his goal is to turn France’s healthcare system into “one of the pillars of the welfare state of the 21st century.” That goal will be accomplished in a number of ways: via organisational changes, better recruitment of doctors and other medical professionals, and utilising digital technologies to give citizens in rural areas greater access to care.
The measures laid out in the healthcare plan will cost an estimated €3.4 billion by 2022, but that number pales in comparison to the country’s €195.2 billion 2018 health insurance budget. A significant portion of those funds will go towards the training of doctors, and Macron’s plan will do away with current caps placed on French medical schools, allowing for more doctors in the field.
In the short term, the French government will dispatch some 400 primary care doctors to rural areas where hospitals are scarce. The healthcare plan also addresses the long wait times in emergency rooms by proposing the creation of localized communities that will respond to medical emergencies between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. This measure is expected to take pressure off emergency rooms and hospitals.
Recent Medical Advancements
France has been at the forefront of medical innovation for centuries. The stethoscope and aspirin originated in France, for example. In recent years, French medical professionals have made advances in the realms of microscopic biomedical imaging and laser technology. A team from the Langevin Institute in Paris uses ultrasonic waves that allow medical professionals to closely examine tissues, and the technology has numerous applications.
The recent influx of wearable medical device technology has also impacted the French healthcare industry in a profound way. Wearable medical devices can assist with diagnostics, pain management, and more. One French company, for instance, has created a wearable anti-aging medical device for dermo-cosmetics. The adhesive patches encourage the skin to restore molecules by applying a micro-current across the skin barrier.
One of the most notable implications of wearable technology is its potential for home-based medical solutions. In France’s medical deserts, the use of wearable devices that monitor heart rates and other vital signs can effectively aid in remote patient monitoring and early disease protection among the country’s most vulnerable populations. When combined with telemedicine, which allows for the remote delivery of healthcare services, wearable devices may help improve overall health rates country-wide.
Preventative Medicine and Policies in France
France and other European countries have strict policies when it comes to the potential side effects of medication. In 2011, the U.S. Federal Drug Administration found that prolonged use of the diabetes drug Actos could increase the risk of bladder cancer. In the U.S., healthcare professionals recommended that patients weigh the benefits of Actos versus the risk of bladder cancer but didn’t ban the sale of the drug.
France took a more proactive approach regarding Actos, however. The French Medicines Agency banned doctors from prescribing the drug as well as Competact, a pill that contains Actos. In general, France has more stringent guidelines in place regarding medications than the U.S., and the country isn’t afraid to improve on its policies.
In 2018, one of France’s best-selling analgesic drugs, paracetamol, came under scrutiny after it was linked to severe liver damage. After conducting research on the potential effects of paracetamol, the National Agency for Safety of Medicines and Health Products recommended that a warning be placed on the drug’s packaging. More than 422 million boxes of paracetamol are sold per year, and the ANSM believes that an on-package warning could help mitigate the risks associated with paracetamol misuse.
France remains a global healthcare leader, and in the wake of improved healthcare policies, the country is poised to continue its commitment to healthcare excellence. By increasing access to doctors in rural areas, embracing technology, and remaining vigilant when it comes to medication side effects, France can improve the health of all citizens well into the future.
Guest post by Devin Morrissey