The healthcare system in Japan is characterized by long hospital stay and a large excess of hospital beds. The average length of hospital stay, and the number of beds per population for acute-care hospitals, are both about twice the average of those in other OECD countries. Insufficient functional differentiation of Japan's hospitals has been claimed as the cause of such inefficiency in the healthcare system.
Since governments have not assigned functions to hospitals, and have imposed very few restrictions on hospital performance (other than the number of hospital beds), even small private hospitals - which are the dominant type of hospital in Japan - can provide advanced surgery, such as cardiac interventions, just as university hospitals do. In recent years, a shortage of physicians, the excess workload placed on them, and the increased risk of medical errors have all become major political issues in healthcare. This is due to the introduction of a new postgraduate training system for doctors, a decrease in the length of hospital stay, and advances in medical technology.
Health resource reallocation needs to be considered in order to overcome these political difficulties in healthcare. However, there have been no adequate indicators for a quantitative assessment of the need and supply of regional healthcare in Japan. In our research, we examined the availability of casemix data in Japan to estimate and visualize health-resource allocation.