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2021.05.27

Digital transformation of healthcare in Japan - a desired but distant goal

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Companies and institutions have widely adapted themselves to new conditions in order to overcome the difficulties imposed by social distancing and remote work amid the ongoing pandemic. This has resulted in the embrace of new devices and software and the enhancement of network infrastructure. However, regarding hospitals and clinics, which stand at the forefront of the healthcare sector, we cannot say that the same transition has been made.

In March, Nikkei Research conducted an online survey to investigate what health information systems are installed in hospitals and clinics and to discern the challenges to the implementation of new systems. Nikkei BPs' "Nikkei Medical Online Panel" was used as the panel source. Responses were collected from 4,508 doctors and directors of hospitals, clinics and other medical institutions in Japan.

The results showed that cloud-based systems and telehealth both had low penetration rates. There is a heightened interest in new technologies such as telehealth, and media coverage of such phenomena is growing. However, in reality, it seems that hospitals and doctors are not yet ready for a digital transformation, and they are not aggressively pursuing the requisite changes.

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While the expectations for digital transformation (including telehealth) are not small, there are certain challenges and barriers to confront for such a sea change to take place. From analysis of the open-ended question that were asked about the concerns and causes that are preventing implementation, we discerned three main factors that seem to be giving the healthcare world pause.

  • #1. Cost

    -> Not only the initial investment in devices, software, and services but also educational costs (i.e., time spent) are necessary for the transition. The results are not deemed sufficiently beneficial to switch.

  • #2. Patient Support

    -> There is concern over the additional work involved in helping patients shift online. In particular, the elderly need assistance with the preparation of devices and the online infrastructure environment.

  • #3. Digital Readiness

    -> There are concerns over data handling and cyber-security measures. There are also questions about how to leverage the digital literacy of both healthcare professionals and patients.

More details of the results are available below.

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NIKKEI Research

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