Global Health & Medicine 2021;3(5):314-320.
Use of information and communication technology in the support of viral hepatitis patients in Japan
Shimakami T, Kaneko S
In Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, the regional core center for hepatitis care coordination (Kanazawa University Hospital, the only regional core center in the prefecture) conducts follow-ups with people who tested positive for viral hepatitis at screenings organized primarily by municipal governments. This program, called the Ishikawa Hepatitis Follow-up Program, has been operating since 2010. The regional core center has conventionally verified the status of program participants using a paper-based system of "examination letters" which specialized institutes mail to the regional core center when a program participant visits a physician there. However, only a low 40% to 50% of examination letters were returned to the regional core center. The program is now using the information and communication technology tool ID-Link to help the regional core center participate in care and provide support through mutual sharing of clinical information with specialized institutes. Currently, 1,632 of the 3,202 people who had tested positive for hepatitis testing since 2002 have consented to participate in the Ishikawa Hepatitis Follow-up Program, and as of the end of March 2021, information about 132 among those 1,632 people is being shared between specialized institutes and the regional core center using ID-link. Sharing of clinical information between the regional core center and specialized institutes enabled by ID-Link provided a more accurate picture of how many people who tested positive for viral hepatitis had visited a specialized institute compared with the previous paper-based system of examination letters, making follow-up more efficient.