On 18 March 2015, the RSS Merseyside local group hosted Professor Rintaro Mori and Hatoko Sasaki from the National Center for Child Health and Development, Tokyo, Japan. The meeting was co-supported by the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, an initiative to develop good relations and knowledge exchange between the UK and Japan. There were 22 people in attendance, including ten RSS members and guest representation from the Cochrane collaboration and Liverpool Women’s Hospital.
Rintaro described Japan’s current health system and made a number of comparisons against higher income nations following World War II. Japan’s expenditure on healthcare was among the lowest, with most monies spent on drugs and medical devices rather than human resources.
With reference to neonatal care, Rintaro described an ongoing cluster randomised controlled trial (INTACT trial) looking to demonstrate how a 'Quality Improvement Package' can improve the survival of low birth weight neonates. As part of this study, Hakoto described how ‘organisational analysis’, which has been developed in the business field, has been applied to number of participating neonatal units in Japan to help implement a quality improvement scheme. Using facility profiling techniques, the study to date has highlighted some important strengths and weaknesses amongst a number of units. Plans for the future are to integrate the ‘best performers’ with those performing less well in the hope that the interaction will promote more effective team behaviours.
In conclusion, Japan faces a number of challenges on its healthcare system, particularly due to its ageing population.