When it comes to biotechnology, Japan is leagues ahead of the western world. They have devices for delivering medicine, patches, nasal sprays that are unlike any other. However, when it comes to Healthtech, Japan sadly is not yet there.
Japanese Healthcare industry
At $472.6 B, Japan ranks third in the world when it comes to the healthcare expenditure, following the USA and China. A sizeable proportion of this is on healthcare delivery – medicines, operational costs, palliative care. However, the spendings on preventive healthcare are limited due to budgeting constraints.
The overall IoT market in Japan is forecasted to reach about $ 143.2 B. A sizeable portion would be healthcare IoT. The overall Healthcare IT market is projected to grow by 12.3% by 2020.
Despite these statistics, the tech giant is struggling, albeit ironically, with IT in healthcare. The market penetration of smartphones and connected devices is high (81.7%). However, the IT literacy among the healthcare workers is low, leading to an effective delivery of healthcare.
Opportunities for HealthTech in Japan
The tertiary care facilities are concentrated in Tokyo and surrounding prefectures (Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama). Delivering uniform healthcare across the country thus becomes a challenge. Although the adoption of health tech by individuals is high, there is no notable use of this data to delivering health care or amending the public policy in any way.
Japan has a simplistic healthcare cost coverage model. Everyone needs to have an insurance. The state covers 70% of the cost, and individuals cover the remaining. The cost-to-patient for procedures is capped, leading to lower spendings. That said, doctors, hospitals, and patients do not coordinate optimally, leading to lost opportunities.
This is a brilliant opportunity for integrating the existing healthcare systems under a single platform. The tech-savvy patients are already capturing their wellness parameters on a daily basis. This is not seen by the doctors though.
Japan has a sizable ageing population, with over 40% over the age of 55. Currently, the elderly in Japan are considered healthy and wealthy, with a significant number of them committing to their personal health. This explains the lower expenditures on healthcare, (about 7% of the GDP as against 17% in the USA.
That said, with a wider adoption of m-health and connected devices by the ageing population, monitoring of health will become easier for that country, easing the burden on preventive expenditures. As in the other developed nations, there is a scope for adoption of healthtech by the elderly, not limited to fitness trackers, m-health devices, remote diagnostics, and other means to track health and wellbeing, like digital scales and sleep trackers. In addition, AI and robotics have a role to play in diagnostics and screening, especially in the remote areas of the country.
Aimedis : what Japan needs right now
The core of Aimedis is connecting the stakeholders in healthcare with each other without a loss of information. Patients can seek a medical consultation, doctors can exchange notes, Hospitals can connect with each other for a seamless data transfer, in the event of a transfer of a patient. In addition, the Pharmaceuticals can plan their clinical trials effectively, and the insurance companies can improve their services.
Countries like Japan, with an ageing population, existing IT infrastructure, as well as a tech-hungry population could use such a seamless integration.