Ageing population trend provides massive opportunities for Japan, UK health tech collaboration, report finds

New research funded by the government of Japan looks at the potential of collaboration for Japan and the UK to help reduce pressures on healthcare through the use of digital technology.
11:02 AM

Japan's healthcare system shares a couple of similarities with the UK's. Both countries provide universal healthcare, and both are now grappling with the challenges posed by ageing populations. According to a report published today, that trend is also creating new opportunities for collaboration.

WHY IT MATTERS

In 2018, citizens aged 65 and over accounted for 28% of Japan’s population, according to figures from the government. This number is estimated to rise to 38% by 2050.

The UK is facing a similar issue, with around 21% of the population projected to be aged 65 and over by 2027, compared to around 18% in 2017.

In the report, Professor Sudhesh Kumar, dean of the Medical School at the University of Warwick in England, argues that digital technologies could alleviate some of the pressures that healthcare systems around the world face in providing services tailored to the new demand.

The UK is now starting to reap the benefits of the implementation of digital solutions that are assisting medical staff and trying to give individuals greater control of their conditions and overall health and wellbeing.

Japan is also looking to transform its services with creation of the Next-Generation Healthcare System. Most recently, the government also introduced a law to allow utilisation of anonymously processed medical information by third parties such as research institutions, government agencies and private-sector companies and promote advanced R&D and new industry creation.

THE LARGER TREND

International collaboration has long been touted as a key factor in advancing the use of digital technology for healthcare, and the two countries’ initiatives can help stakeholders lean on their experiences and pioneer change together, Professor Kumar writes in the report.

But he also cautions that the challenge ahead should not be underestimated.

“Of course, changing national medical systems has never been easy, but the opportunities and benefits for business, healthcare professionals, and, most important of all, patients, are huge,” Kumar writes.

“Digital healthcare has unprecedented potential to resolve some of healthcare’s big problems and increase the longevity of the population," he adds. “The next challenge thereafter will be to design not only healthcare, but a broader society that can accept and manage a 100-year life.” 

ON THE RECORD

Commenting on the report, Dr Charles Alessi, HIMSS chief clinical officer, said: “In the UK, we have already digitised data on a whole-system basis, and we can learn from the experiences of Japan in adapting to a super-ageing society. Although the population in the UK is not ageing at the same speed as in Japan, there are plenty of areas that we could work on together. Pressures on health services will only increase if we do not take action.”

The report, which can be accessed here, is being launched today and introduced at the Healthcare Excellence Through Technology (HETT) event , taking place at the ExCeL centre in London on 1-2 October, of which HIMSS is the official knowledge partner.

This report was funded by the government of Japan and published by HIMSS. The content of the report is independent of the government of Japan or HIMSS and is that of the author alone. Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.