Japan - Country Commercial Guide
Health IT

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2022-01-07

Overview

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Health IT Top Market Report, Japan is a top export market in the field of Health IT. This leading position is a reflection of Japan having the third-highest GDP level globally; a large Health IT market size; the oldest-skewing population distribution; highly clustered populations in urban areas; a tech-friendly society; and a robust Health IT infrastructure system. All these factors indicate that the Health IT industry already has a solid foundation in Japan, with the potential for continued growth.

The Japanese government implemented the “Social Security and Tax Number System” (or the “My Number System”) in January 2016 to improve social infrastructures and governmental administrative efficiencies. The system’s utilization in the healthcare area is limited to administrative procedures for health insurance. In May 2019, the Health Insurance Law was revised so that people could present “My Number Cards” as national health insurance certificates from October 2021. The Japanese government also aims to utilize the anonymous data for research purposes.

The Japanese government expects increased adoption of information technology in the medical care and home nursing care fields, with more regional medical cooperation through information sharing between these two fields. However, security and privacy protection concerns remain over the utilization of medical databases and healthcare big data, along with linkages of medical information numbers and the My Number System.

The adoption of electronic medical records and using health information big data is a major priority in Japan. According to an industry source, the adoption rate for electronic medical records and ordering systems among all hospitals in 2018 was 38.3% and 45.3% respectively. In addition, 78.1% of large hospitals with more than 400 beds have electronic medical records and 82.9% have electronic ordering systems.

The Japanese government temporarily eased telemedicine restrictions to allow doctors to conduct online clinical examinations for first-time patients in April 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  In other countries COVID-19 related measures are likely to be one of the contributing factors to the expansion of telemedicine, the number of monthly telemedicine usages in Japan is 10,000. Telemedicine is still very limited compared to face-to-face medical care that exceeds 10 million cases per month.

The high hurdle for the dissemination of telemedicine in Japan stems from the basic policy of major medical associations, such as the Japan Medical Association (JMA) and the Japanese Association of Medical Sciences (JAMS). In principle, the belief is that online medical care for first-time consultations should be limited to primary care doctors with patients with a known medical condition. JAMS states that for first-time medical consultations, there are only a few diseases for which a diagnosis can be confirmed via an online consultation. Furthermore, the remuneration for online medical treatment in the case of re-examinations is 1,390 yen (USD 13.02) including the prescription fee. This is cheaper than 1,930 yen (USD 18.08) for face-to-face medical treatment, which is another factor that makes doctors reluctant to further adapt telemedicine.

Table: Market size (USD million) 

Year 

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

Total 

3,798

3,556

3,866

4,116

4,122

4,122

Electronic Health Record 

1,337

1,396

1,442

1,628

1,908

1,908

Ordering Systems 

317

253

254

240

254

254

Medical Imaging Systems 

376

356

345

307

239

239

Regional Cooperation Systems 

54

41

43

33

37

37

Exchange Rate (JPY/USD1.00) 

121.05

108.66

112.1

110.4

109.02

106.78

Source: Japanese Association of Healthcare Information Systems Industries (JAHIS) 

Leading Sub-Sectors 

The Government of Japan (GOJ) has steadily been taking measures to improve the regulatory review process for medical devices, including, recently, stand-alone medical software, or Software as a Medical Device (SaMD).  Still, Japan lags other countries in the digital health sector.  For example, the U.S. approves five times more SaMD products, such as those that utilize AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning, than does Japan.

Recognizing this gap, MHLW has taken several recent steps to promote early product commercialization of SaMD.  First, in November 2020, it launched a strategy called Digital Transformation Action Strategies in Healthcare for SaMD, or DASH for SaMD.  Then, in April 2021, it established an office dedicated to SaMD development, as did the Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Agency (PMDA), which is akin to the FDA in the U.S.  In addition, MHLW established a SaMD study group under one of its advisory councils, and – in collaboration with PMDA – set up an integrated contact desk to take inquiries on application criteria, regulatory affairs, and reimbursement.

Japan’s Cabinet approved in June 2021 its Basic Policy for Economic and Fiscal Management and Reform (known as “honebuto”), which specifically prodded the GOJ to promote the development and commercialization of SaMD.  While these policies are being implemented to support and encourage Japanese companies, U.S. firms with state-of-the-art SaMD products stand to also benefit - and thus should stay abreast of market trends and access prospects.

Opportunities 

Healthtech/SUM2021

Date: December 2-3, 2021 

Venue: Nihonbashi, Tokyo and Online

Description: a global conference which introduces the cutting-edge of healthcare-related technologies (healthtech) and its advanced use cases.

Pharma IT & Digital Expo 2022

Date: April 20-22, 2022

Venue: Tokyo Big Sight 

Description: showcases technologies from Japan and overseas through exhibitions and seminars, which aims to further improve QOL by promoting people’s prevention, early treatment, development of innovative pharmaceutical, and proper use of pharmaceutical.

 

Medical Japan 2022

Date: February 24 – 26, 2022 (Osaka) / October 12 –14, 2022 (Tokyo)

Venue: Osaka: INTEX Osaka / Tokyo: Makuhari Messe, Chiba

Description: Medical Japan is one of Japan’s leading trade shows consisting of specialized shows for medical, elderly care and pharmacy industry.

Resources 

Japanese Association of Healthcare Information Systems Industries  

Japan Medical Imaging and Radiological Systems Industries Association  

HL-7 Japan  (http://www.hl7.jp/english/index.html)

Clinical Data Interchange Standards Consortium

 

CS Japan Contact

Ms. Akiko Sugiura, Commercial Assistant

Akiko.Sugiura@trade.gov