Recently, Japan’s Health Ministry has provided approval for telemedicine when treating certain conditions. For example, smoking cessation patients will no longer need an initial face-to-face examination, and will no longer need to see a doctor for prescription drugs to stop smoking. Doctors and patients are also approved to communicate via emails, social network services, and other technology such as smart phones and personal computers.
Historically, the Japanese government has avoided utilizing telemedicine treatments, but has since removed several regulatory barriers. Telemedicine use in Japan has not only cut down on the amount of time patients spend waiting to see doctors, but also makes it easier for patients to receive medical treatment. Specialists have treated a wide variety of cases using telemedicine, including diabetes, depression, allergies, and high blood pressure. Despite these regulatory changes, telemedicine use still has several hurdles to overcome, including health insurance coverage, and gaining the support of more traditional health care providers.