Paris, the word capital for medicine?

The Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP) [Paris public hospital system] receives more than 10 million patients each year, and totals 100,000 medical professionals including 20,000 doctors and 250 operating rooms — impressive figures that make it the biggest hospital structure in Europe.

Florence Veber

Florence Veber, Director of the delegation for international relations at the AP-HP explains why Paris is an important place for medicine that is recognized worldwide.

What explains the excellence of Paris in terms of medical care?

Florence Veber: The AP-HP accounts for almost all of public hospitalization in Paris. Our hospitals have teams that are passionate about what they do, and advanced equipment, such as special MRI scans and several surgical robots. This contributes greatly to the quality of the care given to patients with serious illnesses. This excellence is also illustrated by the large number of medical breakthrough operations conducted in Paris. I’m thinking of course of the first implantation of Carmat’s bioprosthetic heart at the Georges-Pompidou European hospital in December 2013, and more recently, in November 2017, of the skin-graft surgery performed for the first time on a patient with burns on 95% of their body at the Saint-Louis hospital. It is the association of the skills of health professionals within a team that makes this excellence possible. Finally, Paris is a very active capital in terms of research: the AP-HP is the leading structure in clinical research in Europe, with more than 3,000 projects underway, and it ranks 7th in the world in terms of medical publications.  We also know that clinical research is an ongoing process of putting things into question and making progress.

What is the place of Paris within the medical world?

Florence Veber: Paris welcomes many international medical congresses. For example, the International AIDS Society (IAS), the largest scientific conference on AIDS, which every two years brings together more than 6,000 international professionals to discuss the most significant advances in this field. Another major event in the healthcare sector is Healthcare Week, piloted by the FHF (French hospital federation), gathering 30,000 experts, decision makers and health professionals from around the world. In fact, many emerging economies are interested in finding out more about the expertise of French hospitals, as they are aware that the quality of their hospitals is not always of a high enough standard. In 2017, we received 40 international delegations wanting to find out how our establishments were run.

What is it about the French medical system that foreign countries admire?

Florence Veber: International delegations are first of all struck by the access to healthcare for all, without discrimination. They are also surprised to see that patients have confidence in the public hospital system, because in many other countries, wealthier people choose to be treated in the private sector. This can be explained notably by the level of French medical training, entry to which is by a highly-selective exam process, not forgetting the four-year internship where students are entrusted with responsibilities within the hospitals, another French specificity recognized abroad.
Finally, the organization of our urgent medical assistance service (Samu) attracts admiration: a unique emergency telephone number that anyone can call, and a team mobilized within minutes to treat patients on the spot and deliver a first diagnosis. All these specific features contribute to the strength of our hospital system.


Published in 2018, updated in June 2019