The number of tourists from another country is rapidly increasing now in Japan. According to the estimate of Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the number of tourists has increased from 8.36 million to 19.73 million in the years 2012 to 2015. Some of them visit Japan to receive medical services such as a complete medical checkup called Ningen Dock. The trip arranged for both medical services and sightseeing is called “medical tour”. Hospitals in Japan are receiving endless inquiries about Ningen Dock. The Growth Strategy approved by the Cabinet of Japanese government in June, 2016 states that Japan is aiming for the world’s most advanced healthy nation so that the government support can be expected for this medical tour.
In 2016, a Chinese tourist visited Japan to have a Ningen Dock. The marketing director of MRSO Inc. Mr. Matsuo who had accompanied him says, “He was not feeling well but was having a hard time to identify the cause of his condition. But when he had a Ningen Dock, which was recommended by his friend, in Japan, the cause was identified and he was able to return to his country very happy.” Fortunately, an immediate surgery was not required for his condition but once the cause is identified it is easier to set up a treatment plan. Now, how was the unknown cause identified?
Photo provided by Ebisu Buenavista Clinic,
Kenshinkai Tokyo Medical Clinic
Japan is indeed the most advanced medical devices country in the world. When you look at the number of medical devices marketed in the entire world, about half of the CT scans and about 1/3 of the MRI scans are owned by medical facilities in Japan. Owning a large number of diagnostic equipment means that there are many technologists who are analyzing the results and we could say that their analyzing techniques are established. Each medical facility also works hard to advance their analyzing techniques. As a result, the quality of Ningen Dock improves, enabling early detection of a disease and identification of the cause of a condition. In addition, the most advanced medical devices do not only provide high accuracy but they also reduce stress on the body of a patient.
There are other reasons why the Ningen Dock in Japan is popular. Mr. Matsuo says that almost all foreign customers say that they are satisfied with the “service provided by the medical facility”. The polite services provided by nurses, technologists and doctors is supporting the popularity. Besides, many medical facilities are trying to make their facility a relaxing place. Comfortable couches, sophisticated interior and plants placed here and there would make the facility look like a salon.
Photo provided by Kenshinkai Tokyo Medical Clinic,
Gaien Higashi Clinic
The most popular plan for foreigners is a PET scan. The PET scan is one of the testing methods to detect cancer cells and it allows the entire body to be checked all at once. It is effective in the detection of early cancer cells that are hard to be detected using other devices. The PET scan has a negative side. However, its accuracy increases when it’s combined with other individual tests.
Hospital visits are worry-free because of the total support of the interpreters. A typical visit would be as follows. For one-day Ningen Dock, an interpreter will visit the patient’s hotel (※) on the previous day to give instructions and to have a medical consultation form filled out. On the day of the procedure, the patient meets up with the interpreter before going through the procedure. At the end of the procedure, feedback are directly given by a doctor through the interpreter. Questions can be asked, of course. Detailed results are translated and mailed to the patient’s home at a later date.
※or may make a phone call.
What types of visas are available for the visitors who wish for medical services? Currently, there are two types of visas, a visa for sightseeing and a visa for medical stay. Many foreigners come to Japan with the visa for sightseeing. Most Ningen Dock plans offer one-day procedure. Even some of the plans to check for small details usually take up to 3 days and 2 nights. The visa for sightseeing would provide enough time.
On the other hand, the visa for medical stay is needed if treatment is required in addition to the Ningen Dock. The visa for medical stay was arranged in 2011 to meet the needs of foreigners who desire to have treatment in Japan. Healthcare in Japan is characterized by high technologies used in various fields for specific conditions such as cancers, diabetes, and liver diseases as well as artificial joints and infertility treatment, and the doctors have excellent reputation for their skills. Because visiting Japan for the purpose of treatment is difficult, however, Ningen Dock is used as an entrance to identify the cause of a disease in order to be admitted to a hospital and have a surgery. The visa for medical stay allows up to 6 months of stay in one visit, but the number of visas issued each year is not large, making it difficult to obtain one.
If the trip purpose is treatment, the problem remains in the current situation. Still having a Ningen Dock in Japan is very appealing. “After having a Ningen Dock, most will enjoy their sightseeing in Japan. Thanks to the advanced domestic air route network, traveling inside Japan is easy. In addition to the large cities and traditional tourist spots, the areas that were less popular previously are getting popular in recent years so this country is worth sightseeing.”(Mr. Matsuo)
The country with a long lifespan, NIPPON. In Japan, more people are “wishing to stay healthy until their last day” and are aware of their “healthy lifespan”. People are highly interested in the Ningen Dock as preventive medicine and the number of people having it is tending to increase. Some of the traditional local food cultures to stay healthy are also getting attention. From next time, we are going to focus on the food from various places in Japan. Traveling for local food cultures on your Ningen Dock trip sounds like a lot of fun.
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