Q&A: Discussing Japan’s National Health Data Initiative & Innovative Approaches to Fragility Fractures

Mike Hodin, CEO of the Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA), spoke with Mamoru Yamashita, Director of the Division for Health Care and Long-term Care Integration, Health Insurance Bureau at the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) to discuss a new Japanese initiative that will link healthcare data to strengthen multi-stakeholder responses to key health challenges, such as osteoporosis and fragility fractures.

More than 13 million people in Japan live with osteoporosis, and the incidence of hip fractures is projected to increase from 190,000 in 2012 to 320,000 by 2040. In total, fragility fractures are estimated to generate more than $8 billion in costs in Japan—a central health and economic challenge requiring data-driven solutions at scale.

Mike Hodin: What is Japan’s vision for the new national health data initiative? How will this benefit patients and help address age-related health challenges?

Mamoru Yamashita: This new initiative will integrate different health data sets, such as insurance, claims, and hospital data, and then empower patients to control and share their data—driving better care, more informed policy decisions and faster medical innovation. People will be able to share medical information, for example, who provides what treatment and when, not only with their healthcare providers, but also with research institutions and other stakeholders in an anonymized form.

This can help a more diverse group of stakeholders—patients, providers, caregivers, policymakers, academic experts and the private sector—collaborate to improve healthcare. And it’s especially critical for major health challenges like fragility fractures, which require more innovation and research on complex decisions about prevention, rehabilitation, treatment and care.   As a result, we are developing a proposal about “outcome” data collection in the new information system, through medical societies.

MH: When will this system launch, and how do you see it progressing in the years ahead?

MY: The system will launch in the fall of 2021. As it progresses, it will grow to include more data and more types of data, such as information about procedures and outcomes over longer periods of time. This increasingly digitized healthcare landscape means that we can better standardize, share and analyze the information needed to best serve patients, whether that’s detecting risk factors for chronic disease or figuring out how to prevent and respond to fragility fractures.

MH: Until now, experts in the health and aging field have often focused primarily on clinical issues, rather than policy discussions. How will this project help diverse stakeholders contribute to policy discussions, especially in the orthopedic area?

MY: This effort will give a diverse group of experts and stakeholders better data to inform the policy dimensions of healthcare. One of important policy discussions is the bi-annual medical fee revision. In the discussion, up-to-date information about bone fractures and treatment technologies are presented by experts to shape reimbursement and other policy discussions among academic experts, healthcare providers and policymakers, with industry’s perspective also included.   I am pleased to use this forum to suggest that If there are  idea that will be beneficial for osteoporosis and bone fracture treatment management to add into this new information system, I would encourage academic experts and healthcare providers to propose with a supporting data to MHLW through appropriate academic societies. 

This decision-making process is only as good as our data. Improved access to data—such as data around osteoporosis and fragility fractures—enables stakeholders from every constituency to contribute to informed policy decisions.

MH: How can these applications for osteoporosis and fragility fractures support global collaboration and align with the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing?

MY: A data-driven approach to osteoporosis and fragility fractures can provide a model for the kind of comprehensive, detail-oriented mindset we want to bring to healthcare overall—ideally driving towards global comparisons and collaboration. This requires understanding the issue at every level: structure, process, and outcome. For incidents like fractures, more outcome data can help to understand incidence by age group, how many days it took to recover, home-based or hospital care, cost, and more. Collection of such outcome information could be integrated into the new information system. As mentioned earlier, ideas and even proposals to show how best we can capture outcome data would be encouraged.

Such a broad, rich approach will provide a bigger picture as we ask ourselves how best to serve an aging population. And if we can begin to compare this information with data from other countries, the entire global community can begin to move towards best practices for prevention, rehabilitation and care. This would represent an important model and milestone for the WHO’s Decade of Healthy Ageing. It is important to look at the challenges of an aging society not only from the perspective of medical costs, but also as a field where innovation is expected from multiple aspects, such as the cost or burden to society as a whole that enables a better quality of life (QOL) for patients, caregivers and their families, such as being able to work longer and enjoy their lives. Healthier and more active aging along with fiscal sustainability of health systems is clearly a goal of the WHO/UN SDG Decade of Healthy Ageing with which Japan is aligned.  Measuring such outcomes on the basis of the WHO’s new approach of functional ability is a good lever for us here in Japan, especially for Osteoporosis/Fragility Fractures challenges to our super-ageing society.

Latest Developments

We keep our members and partners in touch with the most recent updates and opinions in the worldwide dialogue on population longevity and related issues.

2024 AMR Preparedness Index Progress Report Highlights Urgent Need For Global Action Against Antimicrobial Resistance

Today, the Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA) and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) launched the 2024 AMR Preparedness Index Progress Report. Released in the lead up to the United Nations General Assembly 2024 High-level Meeting on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) this September, the 2024 Progress Report assesses how the eleven largest global economies have advanced on calls to action laid out in the 2021 AMR Preparedness Index.

New Global Analysis Across Five Cities Shows Inequities in Adult Immunization Uptake, Signaling Need to Redesign Local and National Policy Interventions

GSK, in collaboration with the Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA), announced a new report from the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science (IQVIA Institute). The report, funded by GSK, explores the role of social and structural determinants of health in adult vaccine access and uptake across five global cities with strong data about their aging populations: Bangkok, Thailand; Brussels, Belgium; Chicago, US; Manchester, United Kingdom; and New York City, US.

New Report From the Global Coalition on Aging Highlights the Connection Between Adult Immunization and Economic Health in Aging APEC Region

As leaders from across the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) region convene in San Francisco over the next week, a new report from the Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA) points to investments in healthy aging as a growing economic imperative amid the region’s changing demographics. According to the new report, programs that keep populations healthy, active, and productive – like adult immunization – are increasingly becoming a prerequisite for economic stability and growth.

Menopause, the Silver Economy and Workplace Opportunities

As we recognise World Menopause Day, take a moment to consider the economic power, diverse expertise and skills, and incredible societal contributions of the estimated 1.1 billion post-menopausal women worldwide by 2025—a population on-par with China or India, and dwarfing any other country. Indeed, if we want to fuel the vibrant $15 trillion silver economy, societies, governments, and employers must empower older women in the future of work, including solutions that fight stigma and increase workplace support related to menopause.

Best Practices for Engaging a Multigenerational Workforce

Employers are grappling with a myriad of workforce-related issues ranging from productivity to attracting and retaining talent, but many may be overlooking some seismic shifts that are reshaping the future of work: longevity, population aging, and the multigenerational workforce.

Brazil Must Fight Antibiotic Resistance

The threat posed by antimicrobial resistance is urgent and spares no country - including Brazil. According to The Lancet, 63 deaths per 100,000 are associated with AMR in Brazil and Paraguay, a rate that exceeds the average for Latin America and the Caribbean. AMR-associated deaths in Brazil are second only to cardiovascular diseases and cancers.