Patrick Keady

Quality : Japan is the world’s best in healthcare ?

The success of healthcare systems is often measured in terms of quality, activity and cost. Compared with the US, Germany and France, the NHS performs well. In terms of GDP, we spend less.


However, things are less clear when we compare NHS quality and activity. Statistics come to the fore. We compare the NHS with the EU, north America and Australasia. And we might be missing a trick.


Could it be that there are better healthcare systems elsewhere in the World? Healthcare systems that deliver more at less cost.


Take Japan for example. It stands at or near the top in every comparative ranking of healthcare quality, activity and cost.


Not alone is their healthy life expectancy 6% higher than in the UK, they also have the best recovery rates from just about all of the major diseases. Japan leads the World in curing the diseases that can be cured. Impressive.


The percentage of people dying from circulatory diseases per 100,000, is 75% less than here. The proportion of cardiac death is four times less. The birth rate is 30% less and the proportion of the Japanese population that is obese, is one seventh. Although the percentage of daily smokers in Japan is higher – 30.3%, compared to 26% in the UK.


Cost control is one of the key drivers of Japan’s success. It’s savings in the high-tech realm can be awesome. An MRI scan of the neck region in Japan routinely costs 9% of one in the US.


All 125 million residents have access to healthcare services. The Japanese see a Doctor about three times as often as people here in the UK, or those with healthcare insurance in the US. The number of Nurses per 1,000 people in Japan is less than in the UK : 7.8, compared with 8.8 in the UK.


And they have almost three times as many hospital beds per 1,000 people. The average hospital stay is four times the US average. The Japanese get twice as many prescriptions and three times as many MRI scans.


And the cost of caring for every person living in Japan is less than half that of caring for the 80% of Americans with health insurance. Total expenditure is less than in the UK too – 7.8% GDP versus 8.1%.


So what do you think?  Post your thoughts below.


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