The In-House Facilitation of Japanese Health Care to the Non-Native Speaker

The adequate delivery of treatment to patients without Japanese literacy in the Japanese health setting is an ongoing and complex challenge. While some larger hospitals have incorporated in-house “medical coordinators” into their organisational structure, organisations outside of the medical institutions are also addressing this issue with dispatch-type interpreting services, and the use of telephone and video-chat medical interpreting services is also increasing. The upcoming Olympic Games has resulted in increased discussion of these issues. However, this discussion seems to be city-centric and neglects the needs of the regional health setting.

In this presentation, I will share my experiences over an eight-year period as an in-house medical coordinator in a large regional hospital, and from the perspective of an expatriate Australian. While acknowledging the importance in providing care to the speakers of all languages, I will also outline the process in my own capability of assisting the English-speaking patient at our hospital, and suggest some measures that smaller-scale hospitals and clinics may be able to implement in order to provide a more accessible medical service.