Professor Kazuhiro Hara’s Idea Was As Simple To Express As It Was Difficult To Realize: Improving The Quality’ Of Perinatal Care In Japan While Reducing



Professor Kazuhiro Hara’s idea was as simple to express as it was difficult to realize: improving the quality’ of perinatal care in Japan while reducing the costs. As a gynecologist, he knew that sharing patient information with professionals in other facilities would significantly reduce child and maternal mortality. But he also knew that getting medical professionals to cooperate was nearly impossible. Japanese society was strongly risk averse when it came to health care innovation. Medical professionals were not keen on experiments; failure could terminate one’s career and even result in litigation. Hara understood this well, but the wariness of his colleagues did not deter him from pursuing his plan. In the 1990s he built HelioBaby, his own online platform, for perinatal care, and started to enlist participants. Ten years later, HelioBaby was rolled out across the country. Not only did Hara’s innovation change perinatal practice, it also changed the perception of risks, costs, and benefits. Now, innovation in Japanese health care is no longer seen as costly, risky, and undesirable—instead, the status quo is. Around the same time Dr. Hara conceived of HelioBaby, a German member of parliament by the name of Hermann Scheer concluded that his country could no longer afford to postpone the switch to solar energy. But a transition to solar energy would require a profound reshuffle in the entire energy market; the fossil energy sector had been dominant for decades and had considerable influence on key decisionmakers, such as the chancellor and the minister of finances. In Scheer's words, asking fossil energy companies to turn their businesses around was like “asldng the mafia to help fight organized crime.” Nevertheless, he took his chances and started an ambitious energy 3

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