I am originally a medical doctor and have spent more than 10 years both in Japan and the United States practicing medicine. So naturally I am quite familiar with the health care system, think much about it, and am very concerned about the issue in Japan.
I am confident that I have been faithfully doing my job pointing out where the problems exist on this web site as well as in other forums, despite various complaints and criticisms thrown at me from authorities in Japan. The effects of these discussions may not be easy to see, but I think they are starting to show. A system reform is above all the development of human asset capable of adapting to a global era.
If you just search my web site by related key words, you will find many postings, and I have also published many books for common readers such as ‘University Hospital Reform (Daigaku Byoin Kakumei)’, ‘A Challenge to Japanese Healthcare Culture (Nihon no Iryo Fudo e no Chosen’, ‘Lessons for Medical Students (Igakusei no Obenkyo)’ (all books are in Japanese), to name just a few, and I have introduced some more in my web site (in Japanese).
The world has gone through a drastic change since the beginning of the 21st century. Major issues of healthcare system today are: an aging society; increased chronic diseases, especially those related to lifestyle or adult diseases; expansion of the inequality of wealth particularly in the past 20 years due to the globalization of market and economy; and the rapid increase of country debt after the Lehman Shock.
What about Japan? As the most rapidly aging society amongst the developed nations, we have many problems.
Although I intend to continue my effort to help promote the reforms of healthcare systems through activities and recommendations of our Health Policy Institute or WHO there are lots of power politics occurring at the same time. The many stakeholders (i.e. opposition powers) involved make reform a major political issue and this complicates how we address reform in developed countries.
Besides reports and comments on my web site, my recent views are also presented in a book ‘E-Health Reform: IT to Change the Future of Japan’s Health and Healthcare (e-Health Kakumei:IT de Kawaru Nihon no Kenko to Iryo no Mirai)’ (in Japanese), an interview, and on-line publications such as JBPress.
Please take a look when you have time.
In this context, I think the Twelve Ideas developed at the Symposium by Swedish Medical Center (SMC) in Seattle in October are worth noting.
How do we implement these political process is the next question. The book I introduced to you before would be a good guide.
Unless we rename “Medical care system” (Japanese word for “Healthcare system”) by adopting something that more accurately describes the problem like, “Health and Healthcare policy” (Ref.1), I think executing good reform that addresses the actual needs of our society will be really difficult.
The naming of policies is important.