Japan owns the title of the most long-living population in the world, with more than 120 million people living in its 377.900 square kilometres. Whoever visits the country is appalled by its clean streets, quality of service and overall organization. Japan is actually said to have the best service in the world, with the concept of treating the customer as a king ingrained in the culture. However, the tech-savvy country faces the challenge of a growing ageing population and low birth rate of around 1.42 as of 2014. The challenge is how to maintain the social welfare without hurting the 25 years of stagnant economy.
Because of this pressing situation of population pyramid shift, Japan is eager to adopt the necessary reforms to maintain its access to healthcare. The ministry of health, labour and welfare in Japan had issued the Japan Vision: Healthcare 2035, in which lean healthcare, Societal and Individual Empowerment and Global Health poses the pillar to build the long-term approach to the care.
To bring this to reality, building the necessary infrastructure and access to digital technologies are crucial to maintain a seamless experience and reduce costs as a country. The challenges Japan faces in healthcare is not very different from other developed countries: according to Toshihiko Takeda, director general from the aforementioned Japanese ministry, disintegrated databases, data storage, legislation and legal aspects poses the major hurdles to the implementation of its digitalization. He also presents some of the approaches from policymakers as enabling communication from the 200 local based health information technology and the possible implementation of the “My Number”.
This “My Number” is the attempt of the Japanese government to concentrate data of individual in one place so that it can be accessed anywhere in the country from any qualified healthcare professional and assist on the health economics of the national insurance operated by the government. Unification of information would help ultimately the patient as the best care, treatment and prevention methods will be available with the right data analysis, said Dr. Takeda.
Personally, I find it interesting the use of cards as an interface for helping the daily activities, as you can see by the use of the Suica and Pasmo cards as a substitute for credit cards in the daily activities such as paying for your small snacks in the convenience stores or taxis. These technologies that doesn’t require a huge shift from the traditional methods (such as payments by smartphones) is popular in Japan especially for the older generations as they don’t rely solely on the digital technologies. But it doesn’t mean that Japanese don’t like innovation: expect driverless taxis being fully utilised for the 2020 olympics, as it is being tested in the town of Fujisawa.