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The Future of Healthcare System in Japan

On October 8th, ICCJ organised a seminar on the future of the healthcare system in Japan featuring Danny Risberg (CEO of Philips Electronics Japan and Chairman of EBC). The seminar had a great response- nearly 60 participants of which over 90% foreign nationals, clearly indicating the high level of interest toward the subject.

Risberg kicked off his presentation with a drastic data forecast: by 2060 the population in Japan would decrease by 40%, with 1 person every 2.5 being over 65, and 1 every 4 over 75 years old. Immigration could be an answer to the problem but in order to really counterbalance it, it would need to be a constant flow and that doesn't seem to be possible given the lack of infrastructure. One natural consequence of such a fast-ageing society is the increasing need of medical cure, with chronic disease being the major concern. On top of that, the fact that the number of young women picking up smoking is rising is not encouraging. 
Currently 97% of people over 65 live in their home under national nursing insurance and 80% of them require nursing support. A strong need for home healthcare seems to be a clear consequence of that.
From an economic point of view, this will translate in a rise of expenditure for elderly people, which will come to represent almost 50% of the total health cost by 2025. With this in mind the Abe Government is trying to change the medical system within the next 10 years.
The reform will focus on switching from acute care, which is what Japanese hospitals are known for, to chronic care by domestic M&A rather than foreign investment or creation of new structures. This forecast does bring a new range of business opportunities to the plate that can be identified with how fast, creative and flexible one is in offering holistic solutions to support the patient after he has been dismissed from the hospital -Japan has the longest hospitalisation in the world- and especially to prevent him from having to be hospitalised again. 

Risberg sees 3 main factors being involved: increase chronic disease, shortage of care providers and the desire for a better choice in life and care. Put in a very simple way people want to live happily and they want to live at home. If you can somehow help the puzzle come together you have a great business chance and in doing this innovation and IT simplification is a great key. 

Risberg closes his presentation by stating that ultimately what will save Japan is exactly the Japanese culture. Doctors in Japan are truly dedicated professionals that would give up much of their personal time to save the patient. 

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