The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare is aiming for individual municipalities and prefectures to create integrated community care systems tailored to the characteristics of their respective communities by 2025, when every member of the Japanese baby boom generation will be 75 or older. Integrated community care consists of providing integrated support and services, such as housing, medical care, nursing care, prevention, and lifestyle support and services, so that people, even if they require intensive nursing care, can continue to live their lives as much as possible the way they are accustomed to in the communities of which they are members. *1
The Japanese government also promotes evidence-based policy making (EBPM). EBPM refers to clarifying policy objectives and basing policy planning on evidence, rather than relying on mere experience or examples seen and heard on the spot. It also states that the outcomes of those policies should be measured by utilizing data such as information and statistics that have important relevance. *2
*1 Reference: Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare - Integrated Community Care Systems
*2 Reference: Cabinet Office - EBPM Measures by the Cabinet Office
In other words, local governments are being called on to build integrated community care systems, to prevent the community members from falling ill or becoming severe conditions, and to promote cross-sectional nursing and medical care -- and to do so through EBPM.
However, for many local governments, the data that is collected, such as nursing care data, medical care data, and medical checkup data, is stored on independent and isolated information systems, so the governments are in no position to apply a cross-sectional approach to data usage. Some information that is on paper has yet to even be digitized.
In addition, at a good number of local governments, day-to-day operations are largely performed by hand. These include responding to inquiries, collecting and processing data, performing analysis, and preparing materials for conferences and meetings. The personnel that handle this work often have to devote all of their effort to it, making it difficult for them to dedicate attention to deliberating more effective potential measures. Quite a few local governments face both system and personnel challenges.
In the future, what will be important for local governments will be to prepare data utilization platforms that bring together the data they have accrued, tabulate and analyze it, and effectively leverage it. Realizing this kind of platform will make it possible for local governments to use data to determine current conditions (Check). They can then identify issues based on the results (Act), deliberate regarding future measures (Plan), and then implement and evaluate those measures (Do). Through this operation cycle, local governments will be able to efficiently conduct the regional management operations involved in integrated community care so that they can prevent people from contracting illnesses or becoming more severe, and promote cross-sectional nursing and medical care.
For local governments, this process will also be one of creating integrated community care systems through EBPM, and it will contribute to extending the healthy lives of the Japanese people and optimizing medical and nursing care benefit expenses, which local governments are being called on to do by the national government (Fig. 1).