Japan Healthcare Info, a newer, non-profit organization, has stepped in to fill the gap. You'll find a host of information regarding medical care in Japan on their website, including a long list of English/Japanese translations of common phrases and terms used at the doctor or pharmacy. Some of the info (such as schedules, costs, etc.) may differ slightly from what is true in your location, (currently, much of it is referenced from the Kanto region) but feel free to send them an email with info from what is most common in your region.
In addition to general medical information, JHI also provides various services to assist foreigners, including, but not limited to:
- Finding and locating hospitals or clinics and doctors to meet your specific requests (such as English-speaking, a clinic to potentially match your prescription from home, etc.) This service is free.
- Setting up appointments. Service fee ¥1000.
- Preparing Japanese documents, such as hospital/day care admission or application for insurance benefits Service fee ¥3000-5000.
- Interpreter services via phone
- Possible in-person interpreter services (please inquire for more details about this one, fees vary)
Feel free to contact them if you need help with something specific not listed above.
JHI also offers a monthly/yearly membership fee, which provides unlimited use of their services and a members-only contact number for emergencies. The monthly fee is 1000 yen and the yearly fee (students only) is 5000 yen. They accept payments via bank transfer (furikomi), Paypal, or cash.
They welcome any inquiries regarding health care services via phone (080-4421-7477) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Hours are 9am-5pm, Monday through Friday and during that time they respond to enquiries within 30-60 minutes. On weekends they won't be able to respond to emails within the same time frame but will try to respond same day.
So if you're stuck, trying to find a doctor or dentist, not sure where to get your prescription filled, or need to set up an appointment, you might find JHI a big help.
[Update] I asked the folks at JHI to find an English-speaking dentist in my area (sent on a Friday), and they responded Monday evening with a list of several English-speaking dentists in a nice spreadsheet with general info about each one, location with a map link, and even some notes regarding the feedback the dentists have received in Japanese. Very helpful, and very fast!
Has anyone used their services before? Any comments?
Just a note: I wasn't asked or reimbursed in any way to write this post. They sent me a message asking for a link, and I checked out their website and emailed back and forth with the director. I decided to write a post about their service because I think it would be very helpful to a lot of folks (and I've been there myself, so I wish they would have been around when I first arrived in Japan!)