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How 2020 prompted a revolution in Japanese telehealth

Date

02/11/2021

Written by

Airnow

Telehealth, sometimes referred to as telemedicine, is the delivery of healthcare, health education, and health information services via remote technologies.

In a country where innovation in medical health has stagnated in recent history compared to other developed countries, recent developments have prompted a much-needed kickstart to the telehealth industry. According to a report by Yano Research Institute, Japan’s telehealth market is set to grow by 60% to nearly 20 billion yen ($185 million) in the five years to March 2024.

The effects of the pandemic

Japan’s late activation in the market was prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, which saw the Japanese government look to ease regulations on remote medical treatment due to skyrocketing demands. This opened up a window of opportunity for tech companies to start to shape the future of healthcare in the world’s most rapidly ageing society. As Shinichiro Muroyama, a representative director of Line Healthcare, said in an interview, “the effect that COVID-19 brought was a huge innovation in the healthcare industry.”

As coronavirus cases spiked in April in Japan, a country with an ageing population and markedly low numbers of doctors in rural areas, a crisis seemed just around the corner. The situation ushered in the implementation of remote medical care to bridge the gap between the lack of doctor availability and the increasing demand for healthcare.

The changes, which were only originally meant to be temporary, marked the start of a shake-up in one of the world’s biggest medical markets, which has lagged behind countries like Australia, China and the United States when it comes to telemedicine.

Previously, Japanese doctors were only allowed to treat recurring patients remotely, and for a limited number of diseases. But now telehealth applications are springing up all over the country and gaining significant traction.

HELPO

The HELPO app is just one example of a telehealth app that has played an important role in the modernisation of Japan’s telehealth industry. HELPO allows users to instantly chat with medical consultation teams consisting of doctors, nurses and pharmacists.

During April 2021 when coronavirus cases started to hit new highs, downloads and usage for the HELPO app grew concurrently. According to Airnow Data’s platform, from Apr 1, 2021 to Jun 1, 2021downloads and DAUs skyrocketed by 580% and 520% respectively.

CLINICS

CLINICS is another example, developed by a Japanese medical start-up called Medley Inc. in Tokyo. The app says it offers a range of telehealth services, “from online medical treatment to online medication guidance, medicine delivery, and drug registration in a medicine notebook.” Similarly to HELPO, CLINICS has seen excellent growth throughout the past couple of years, and this trend has continued in recent months. According to Airnow Data sources in October 2021, MAUs and DAUs increased by 17.5% respectively.

With new start-ups such as HELPO and CLINICS making movements in the market, bigger players in the Japanese tech industry are starting to pay attention to the opportunity that the telehealth market offers.

LINE is entering the market

The rapid pace of change has awoken the giant of Japanese tech. Line, which had already been developing a telehealth app called Line Healthcare, has announced that it is accelerating plans for the new business’ roll-out in the coming months.

Line, which according to Airnow Data sources has been downloaded more than 25 million times in the last year alone, will provide an excellent platform from which to link doctors and patients by video.

Wrapping up

In the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in most parts of the world, the use of remote health consultation emerged as an excellent way to placate the build up of cases and the strain on healthcare workers. In Japan, the reforms enacted by the government to ease these strains have opened up the door for telehealth technology to enter into the mainstream.

In light of these developments at Airnow Data, we believe that this new market is an excellent opportunity for app marketers and developers alike. Using the Airnow Data platform you can gain access to a holistic view of any app ecosystem like this one to help make informed data driven business decisions.

For more information, feel free to book some time with the team directly.