Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?
Presently, health check-ups are conducted only during “normal work hours,” which means patients cannot be seen on weekends or weeknights in Japan. Even for those who are available during the day time for a checkup, there are many stipulations involved: small children are not allowed in with you, appointments are not taken, so patients must be prepared for long wait times until they can be seen. As a result of these limitations, 40% of Japanese adults do not get medical check-ups. Those who do not have an insurance card (only 5% of the total population in Japan actually does) cannot get a check-up at hospitals because if an illness is detected, hospitals are obliged to treat it at their own expense. Thus, potential patients who do not have an insurance card are turned away by the hospital as ineligible to receive treatment.
There are some 2 million qualified nurses in Japan, but only 1 million of those are actually working as nurses. According to the present system in Japan, the government offers subsidies in accordance with the number of full-time nurses in a hospital and part-time nurses are not under consideration. Therefore, hospitals are deterred from hiring part-time nurses.
Furthermore, the aging population is rapidly increasing in Japan and the existing system is not flexible enough to meet these new needs. Kawazoe believes utilizing young nurses who are direct graduates from college, the ones who are filled with motivation and physical strength, could be the key to solve this dysfunctional reality.
Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!
Takashi Kawazoe has engineered a system that allows people to receive a medical health check through a self-drawn blood test. The procedure is called “one coin diagnosis.” People can have a simple physical check up for JPY 500 (app. US $6), on street corners, train stations or department stores. Nurses are on hand to consult with patients after they receive the results, which are available five to ten minutes after. The clinic targets people working with computers, who tend to suffer dry eyes, smokers who are likely to have weak lung functions and middle-aged or older women concerned about bone density. Since the outlet is attended by a nurse, instead of a doctor, no medical treatment is given.
Through the one coin diagnosis, people are able to check various conditions such as blood-sugar level, HbA1c, neutral fat, total cholesterol, LDL/HDL, liver function, bone density, blood pressure, BMI, lung-health, dry-eye, and blood vessel age.
Still, the nurse, using visual display terminals, will offer advice on where to get proper treatment or give tips on nutrition. For Kawazoe, this program is changing awareness about health in Japan.
Kawazoe also realized that nurses could be the right kind of professionals to address the burgeoning needs of the health care industry. Traditionally, graduates from nursing school were expected to start working for hospitals immediately after graduation and other alternatives were not accepted by society. Hospitals in Japan expect nurses to be on call 24 hours a day, therefore, those who cannot fulfill this requirement are not able to work as nurses. Kawazoe realized that through Care Pro, his model for making healthcare more accessible, nurses could finally find other ways to work that would not require them to be in the hospital and work long hours.
Kawazoe is also working with nurses to create additional employment opportunities by expanding their areas of expertise and providing services beyond what is traditionally provided. For example, Kawazoe has employed nurses to coordinate funeral services. Presently, funeral services are carried out by directors of funeral homes and consist of a brief service. However, Kawazoe realizes that nurses have a unique vantage point in terms of hospice and mental health care. Thus, he employs nurses to provide services to the bereaved as well.
Kawazoe is now preparing to develop an initiative for autistic children. He is working to eliminate the stigma towards autistic children by having nurses work together with parents. Kawazoe is continuing to identify ways in which nurses can serve as connecters to better health in Japanese society.