Japanese healthcare quality improvement

John Øvretveit*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Are there lessons for the West from the way Japanese managers and healthcare workers use quality methods in healthcare? This paper describes the Japanese approach to quality in healthcare by drawing on a research visit and published research. It describes the similarities and differences between Japanese and other public healthcare systems and the factors leading to the application of quality methods in Japan. The paper discusses why quality methods have been used less in healthcare than in industry, and the methodology of quality circles. It describes why total quality methods have not been adopted, the approach of "evidence based participatory quality improvement" which is being developed and proposes that western healthcare can learn from the methodical "bottom-up" introduction of quality methods as a foundation for TQM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-167
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Japan
  • Quality
  • Quality circles
  • TQM


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