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Delivering High-Quality Health Care and Welfare Services for All People Who Require Them2014.06.12
Health Services Research
Professor Nanako Tamiya, Faculty of Medicine
25 (18 faculty members, 0 postdoctoral fellows, 7 from other organizations)
Long-term care, health care, welfare, insurance system, quality assessment
Japan has a rapidly aging population. The world’s attention is focused on the quality of health care and welfare services provided in this aging society. Are such services really available for people who require them with a consistently high quality? Our research unit aims to improve the quality of health care and welfare services through scientific evaluation and analysis of their quality from various perspectives.
Japan’s first center of excellence for health services research
Health services research is a multidisciplinary scientific field that evaluates/analyzes the quality of health care and welfare services, and examines it with medical, economic, and sociological perspectives by utilizing onsite and national/local research data, based on three concepts: structure, process, and outcome (Figure 1). Research findings are fed back to clinical settings and the government to improve the quality of health care services. There are several academic journals in health services research in Europe and the United States, and it is defined as part of public health. In Japan, however, it is not yet deeply understood. Therefore, we established Japan’s first center of excellence for health services research, and have been striving to overcome issues related to health care and welfare services in Japan.
Experimental studies for “health care in harmony with daily life”
We are currently conducting studies on the long-term insurance system for older people. Based on the analysis of previous research findings, we consider that it is important to cooperate with the field of health care, evaluate/improve the quality of various health care services, and improve the caregiver support. We must accumulate more scientific evidence in order to propose new policies by conducting a large-scale analysis using national data on the use of the long-term care insurance system in future. Since we have been conducting a study focusing on people who require care, our focuses have extended to children and caregivers including children with disabilities.
We consider that it is important to keep delivering high-quality health care and welfare services to those who require them by fully understanding their daily lives. However, the present health care services are far from facilitating a high quality of life due to institutional voids created by a social divide and vertically-divided administrative systems. We must fill such voids, and realize “health care in harmony with daily life” by empirically examining such situations and feeding back findings to clinical settings and the government (Figure 2).
● I served on the board at the conference on the promotion of social welfare for elderly people living in Tsukuba City for 3 terms. With the cooperation of the city and university, we investigated and analyzed citizens’ needs, and contributed to evidence-based policies.
● I contributed an article on elderly care to the Lancet that featured Japan’s universal health coverage system which marked the 50th anniversary in 2011.
● “Introduction to health services research – Scientific examination of health care as a service (tentative)” will be published.
● Saturday public lecture series on “Introduction to health services research for medical practitioners” was held on the Tokyo campus (February 2014).
● A doctoral thesis which analyzed Japan’s long-term care insurance system in collaboration with a Ph.D. candidate from Chile was published (Springer). “Trends and Factors in Japan’s Long-Term Care Insurance System: 10-Year Experience. Pedro Olivares-Triado, Nanako Tamiya, Springer Briefs, 2014”
● Center for Global Aging Tsukuba Preparation Office was established in collaboration with an interdisciplinary research unit of humanities and social sciences, “Total policy for family” (using the school budget for pre-strategic initiatives).
(Interviewed on July 17, 2013)