Telemedicine in Fukushima

Following the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, evacuation orders were given to 12 municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture, and the local medical care system was at once lost. Among these areas, in Minamisoma City Odaka Ward, for which the evacuation order was rescinded in July 2016, the return of residents has progressed. However, many of the returning residents are elderly *1, and many require home medical care because of physical and transportation difficulties preventing them from visiting medical care facilities. However, Odaka hospital, which is the core hospital in the region, is run on a shift basis by one full-time physician and three part-time physicians, making it a challenge to deal with homecare patients.

Under the circumstances, Minamisoma City decided to provide telemedicine from Odaka Hospital for patients requiring home medical care in May 2017. If a physician decides that it is possible to provide telemedicine, the nurse brings a tablet terminal to the patient's home, and the physician makes use of telemedicine by administering care to the patient through the said tablet. Reducing the time spent by physicians on traveling to provide home medical care could increase the coverage of patients, thereby enhancing regional healthcare delivery systems.

On the occasion of the visit to the Prime Minister's Office, Medley introduced actual initiatives and reported on the practical feasibility of such initiatives, including letting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe experience telemedicine.

*1 The percentage of the elderly in Odaka Ward was 53.7% (as of April 2017). The national average was 26.7% (as of October 2015/from the 2016 version of the White Paper on Aging Society).
Date: JUNE 2019

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