John Hopkins Medical Institutions based mainly in Baltimore, United States, are now spreading their wings with distant shores in mind.
As part of that move, a John Hopkins clinic will be set up at Tokyo, Japan.
The reason behind this is cited to be Japan's growing discontent with the national health-care system. Accordingly, around 40 percent of the government's healthcare budget is taken up by caring for an aging population. This has even got to the extent where other patients have to wait for sometimes, even up to a month to have a surgery scheduled.
City government surveys show dissatisfaction of the residents at the fewer number of emergency rooms and clinic as well as long waiting lines, compromised by the diversion of funds to geriatric care.
Japan's health-care system is based on a universal insurance program, which requires working-age citizens and children to pay 30 percent of the cost of treatment in any hospital or clinic around the country. This is while seniors are reimbursed for as much as 90 percent of the cost.
Emphasis on basic medical services for all of Japan's 128 million people has created four times the number of hospital beds per capita than the U.S., and raised costs that are forcing the Japanese government to apply the brakes on health spending.
The John Hopkins- linked clinic, to be set up in one of Tokyo's most swanky locations and placed in the tallest building of the city, will be called the Tokyo Midtown Medical Center. In addition to the Baltimore-based Hopkins, it will involve partners Mitsui Fudosan Co. and Resorttrust Inc.
Says Katsuyasu Ito, president of Nagoya-based Resorttrust, an owner of time-share resorts and golf courses: ``Health care is a growing business, and we see a greater need among retirees wanting to maintain their health."
The clinic is the latest of seven overseas projects since 2006 for Hopkins, which has topped U.S. News & World Report's ranking of American hospitals the past 16 years.
While 69 percent of hospitals run by local governments had operating losses in 2005, Tokyo Midtown Medical Center aims to be profitable in three years, according to the clinic's chief operating officer Tetsuya Furukawa. He expects the clinic to attract clients from among the estimated 13,000 foreign residents who live in and around Roppongi.
Developing ``state-of-the-art'' clinics overseas is an area of ``explosive growth'' for Johns Hopkins Medicine International, the group said in its 2006-2007 annual report.
``Our goal is to make new discoveries and new treatments available in Japan,'' says Steve Thompson, chief executive officer of Johns Hopkins Medicine International.
Demand for private health services is increasing among the estimated 1.4 million millionaires living in Japan, according to Koichi Kawabuchi, a professor at Tokyo Medical and Dental University.
``Japan's health care is economy class and wealthier people are willing to pay for business class services", Kawabuchi was quoted.
And business class service, it is indeed. At the Tokyo clinic, doctors can get advice from colleagues at Johns Hopkins via videoconference and patients can be referred to the hospital in Baltimore for treatment unavailable in Japan. Bilingual staff, nutritionists and cosmetologists are on staff.
Fees start from 80,000 yen for a one-day appointment to 2 million yen for a three-day package. This includes screening for 250 disorders and a room at the Ritz-Carlton featuring panoramic views of Tokyo and Mount Fuji.