Japan

Health Sector & Internationalization

Japan

Introduction

Japan is one of the largest markets for healthcare and medical devices worldwide with ca. 49% of the medical devices being imported. Highly developed infrastructure and healthcare system combined with a health-conscious ageing population make Japan an extremely attractive choice for market entry.
This development is supported by governments aims at implementing structural and systemic reforms to encourage innovative solutions in order to create an effective healthcare system with improved patient outcomes and terms of financing.

Attention in the care of the elderly: Japan require new assistive and healthcare solutions, products and services to enhance the quality of life of the elderly.

Keyword ‘sophisticated’: Highly developed and tech-savvy country with a strong competition despite high imports in medical technology. Well-priced products with a unique selling point have the best chances succeed as Japan has an overflow of a variety of diverse healthcare products.

Need for maintaining healthcare costs: Due to fast changing demographics and unsustainable healthcare system, Japan seeks ways to reduce healthcare consts. In consequence, this offers market opportunities, for Big Data and AI-based technology, applications and solutions.

Current Trends

Japanese healthcare technology market 

Due to Japanese consumers’ health concerns there is a demand for self-care devices, such as wearable lifelogs and biosensors in chronic diseases, personalized preventive medicine and wellness that cater individual needs. Especially medical devices and solutions aimed for the ageing population that alleviate pain, complement lost functions and generally improve the quality of life in ailments related to chronic and lifestyle diseases.

Current Market Demands

  • Personalized health and related technologies
  • Preventive precision medicine and related technologies
  • Digitization 
  • Big Data, cloud computing and AI in healthcare
  • eHealth; Patient health records, patient self-care devices, medication management
  • Telemedicine & related technology; Remote/ AI-based diagnostics, telepathology, wireless medical perscriptions
  • Diagnostics systems and equipment
  • Rehabilitation; Orthetics, prothetics, daily living aids
  • Imaging techniques and radiotherapy
  • Infection control products and solutions

Opportunities

in Health Sector & Life Sciences

Smart Healthcare & Digital Health

Japan is leaping towards digitization, and telemedicine and mobile applications are paving the way for digital health in Japan. However, healthcare services have not made as much progress in digitization compared to other sectors since the launch of Japan’s e-Japan Strategy in 2001 or the i-Japan Strategy launched a few years later. One of the reasons is the slow progress in Japan’s administrative system, unlike the private sector that has taken the initiative to accelerate digitation, the government agencies still rely on paperwork, outlined by the fact that hospitals have been faxing coronavirus statistics by handwritten forms.

However, there is no special legislation enacted for digitization in the healthcare sector in Japan nor there are no special laws or regulations for providing digital health services.

How to handle personal information becomes an issue, and depending on the type of product or service diverse regulations will apply.

Oncology; Cancer treatment

Cancer is the leading cause of death in Japan since 1981, and it counts 27% of total deaths (2018) while the ten-year survival rate has risen to almost 60% meanwhile. Some of the most prevalent cancer types are pancreatic, gastrointestinal and lung cancer – from over one million cancer incidence each year.

Innovation trend treating cancer has to lead to advancements in establishing genomic cancer medicine individually to each patient among the influx of novel oncology drugs that have been approved. As cancer treatments are seen as one of the top priorities by the Japanese government, the infrastructure, diagnostics and reimbursement environment have been reformed to allow for the innovation of new drugs to reach patients fast.

In addition to pharmaceutical products, Japanese cancer treatment centres and hospitals have a demand for advanced diagnostic and treatment systems, such as

  • Biomarkers
  • Imaging & simulation systems
  • Image guided treatment delivery
  • Gamma & particle knife technologies

Cardiovaskular and Surgical Implants

Hypertension is one of the leading causes of death in Japan. Approximately 43 million people in Japan are hypertensive of which the prevalence of hypertension is 60% for men and 41% for women aged 40 to 74 years and 74% for men and 77% for women above the age of 75 years according to the national surveys of Japan throughout 1961-2016.

Despite the high hypertensive population, the prevalence of uncontrolled hypertension remains 50%. Poorly controlled hypertension is as high as 72%. Being a major risk factor for future cardiovascular diseases, it is no wonder that Japan has one of the largest intravascular imaging markets in the world.

The outlook is expected to grow in the coming years across the sector including such applications as

  • Implantable cardiac defibrillators
  • Intravascular Ultrasound Systems (IVUS)
  • Pacemakers
  • Vascular grafts
  • Cardiac & PTCA Balloon catheters
  • Coronary stents
  • Coronary guidewires.

In Vitro Diagnostics

Japanese in vitro diagnostics field has seen a shift from traditional diagnostics to a new generation of diagnostics spurred by advanced technologies. In 2019 diagnostic equipment accounted for the second-highest sales value at over 1.5 trillion yen from medical devices sales. In particularly high demand are technologies and solutions in genetic testing and molecular diagnostics, as well as Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), and Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) that saw a rise in demand even before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some of the drivers of In Vitro Diagnostics is the high proportion of the ageing population in Japan that requires the diagnostic of diseases related to ageing and high life expectancy as well as the increased awareness of chronic and infectious diseases leading to demand such applications as

  • Genetic testing
  • Immunology
  • Hematology
  • Tumor marker
  • Self Monitoring Blood Glucose (SMBG)

Japan

Statistics

Source: Statista 2021

Japan

S W O T

S

STRENGHTS

  • One of the largest export markets for healthcare industry
  • Public medical insurance system
  • Universal and egalitarian healthcare system
  • Government initiatives to strengthen foreign investments
  • Open to innovative and high-quality technologies
  • High quality of life and life expectancy
  • Increase in medical device spending per capita
  • High reimbursement prices
  • Highly developed infrastructure, 81.7% of the population is connected to the Internet and spread of wearable devices in all segments of the population

W

WEAKNESSES

  • Weak price development due to government efforts to maintain low healthcare costs

  • Policy fragmentation and overlapping responsibilities due to involvement of multiple government agencies slow down device and reimbursement processes

  • Efforts to shorten regulatory phases, still registrations follow behind
  • Healthcare ICT systems are developed for individual hospitals leading to fragmentation of hospital networks

  • No hospital point-of-contact available for ICT issues

  • Poor IT literacy among health professionals and patients alike

O

OPPORTUNITIES

  • Abenomics: Focus on healthcare

  • Healthcare dependent on imports (49% medtech)

  • Ageing demographics with growing demand for healthcare solutions combined with a lack of service providers

  • High utilization of healthcare infrastructure

  • Recent and ongoing regulation changes that authorize telemedicine and the use of smartphone as medical devices and speed up the approval processes of new devices

  • Increase in out-patient services and technologies, self-care devices and preventive care technologies

  • Revision of Pharmaceutical Affairs Law open ups doors for innovation

T

THREATS

  • Outdated and unsustainable healthcare system due to lack of financial resources by key customer groups – although new solutions are needed, investors remain reluctant
  • Cost pressures combined with policy changes where prefectures take more responsibility at the local level
  • Big data and privacy legislation is insufficient to dispel privacy concern brought by new technology
  • Healthcare is equipped with large variety of products making it challenging for new entries
  • Approval process remains costly and lengthy despite considerable reform efforts

Japan

Health Tech

Japan

Health Indicators

Japan health indicators