At-home medical care

Care where a pharmacist visits the home of a patient for whom physical disabilities or other circumstances make it difficult to visit a hospital or pharmacy. The visiting pharmacist explains medications to the patient, monitors and manages the patient’s medication status, and provides medical care in cooperation with doctors, nurses, and other care providers.

Automatic drug picking device / Fully automatic PTP sheet dispensing device

In Japan, patients usually take drugs that have been sealed in PTP sheets. At pharmacies, PTP sheet-packaged drugs are picked by staff. These two devices store PTP sheets in cassettes, and they are becoming popular as a machine to prepare the required number of PTP sheets by transmitting prescription data.


A Vision of Pharmacies for Patients

A vision announced by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in October 2015. The announced vision is a guideline for fulfilling functions such as pharmaceutical management and guidance, which includes centralizing drug use data and constantly acquiring new information about drugs and dealing with at-home medical care within the integrated community care system. The guideline also attempts to achieve the separation of the roles of drug prescribing and dispensing for patients who live locally. The guideline also shows the direction that dispensing pharmacies should take and the functions required.


Certified Nutrition Care Stations

Certified Nutrition Care Stations are facilities certified by the Japan Dietetic Association as regional bases for providing nutrition care support and guidance for members of regional communities.

Nutritionists and registered dietitians—professionals of food and nutrition—provide support for members of regional communities to live healthy and fulfilling lives.


Dispatching act

The official name is the “Act for Securing the Proper Operation of Worker Dispatching Undertakings and Improved Working Conditions for Dispatched Workers.” This is a law with established rules that temporary staffing companies and companies that hire temporary staff must observe in order to protect the rights of dispatched workers. The law has been improved by, for example, establishing the period of time that a worker can be dispatched to the same office of a company that hires temporary staff.

Drug price revisions

Official drug prices for medical treatment covered by health insurance are determined by the National Health Insurance (NHI) drug price list.

New drugs may be listed four times a year, and generic drugs may be listed twice a year. Since April 2020, NHI drug price revisions have been implemented every year based on a survey of market prices for drugs conducted among medical institutions and pharmacies.


Electronic Okusuri Techo (Electronic medication notebook)

A notebook application for centrally managing the information and records of prescribed medicines and for avoiding duplication and side effects caused by taking multiple medications. It can record information on a smartphone or other device. NIHON CHOUZAI has conducted in-house development of the electronic medication notebook Okusuri Techo Plus. Although a number of companies have rolled out their own products, the products of companies that participate in the Japan Pharmaceutical Association’s mutual browsing service can perform information browsing, including even other companies’ electronic medication notebooks.

Electronic Prescription

Electronic prescriptions are electronic versions of prescriptions that were previously issued on paper. By selecting an electronic prescription and consenting to medical institutions referring to the patient's medication information, patients can receive medical care based on past medication information prescribed at medical institutions and pharmacies.

In addition to streamlining the exchange of prescriptions between medical institutions and pharmacies, it is also expected to check for multiple medication use by medical institutions and pharmacies, and to monitor medication use and health promotion by patients.


Family pharmacist

The system of having the same pharmacist in charge as a “family pharmacist” by appointing the pharmacist to the patient began in April 2016. By appointing only one desired pharmacist from among pharmacists who have cleared certain nationally established requirements and signing a consent form, that pharmacist gives instructions about medicines, provides counseling and other services as the attending pharmacist next time. 


  1. Pharmacist understands drugs collectively
    The attending pharmacist collectively understands the patient’s drugs, over-the-counter drugs, health foods or supplements received at another medical institution or drug store. The pharmacist provides advice, such as precautions when taking drugs, including whether duplicate drugs are being taken and the interactions that drugs have with each other or with food.
  2. Verification of change in physical condition and management of medicines
    During the pharmacy visit, the pharmacist continuously checks the patient’s progress after taking medication, including their past medication record. The pharmacist observes the medication’s effect on the patient and changes in physical condition and contacts a medical institution, if necessary. If there is much medicine left over, the pharmacist proposes that the prescription be adjusted next time and organizes the medicines.
  3. Nighttime/holiday response and counseling
    As a pharmacist who understands the patient’s medication status, the pharmacist responds to requests for medication and health maintenance counseling. The pharmacist provides medication counseling, even when the patient’s pharmacy is closed, such as at nighttime or on holidays.

1. Possess at least three-years’ experience as an insurance pharmacist 
2. Works at least 32-hours per week in said insurance pharmacy 
3. Has a tenure of at least one year in said insurance pharmacy 
4. Received training certification from a training certification system that is approved by the Council on Pharmacists’ Credentials 
5. Participate in local medical activities 
6. Has independent counters separated by partitions (Added from April 2020)

Family pharmacists and pharmacies

In A Vision of Pharmacies for Patients, the three functions required of family pharmacists and pharmacies are explained, but there are no facility standards for pharmacies and notification to Regional Bureau of Health and Welfare is not required. Work required for family pharmacists and pharmacies is mainly interpersonal work, and the main work is the 9 items necessary for pharmacies other than basic fee 1 to calculate community support system incentives. The same ministry is seeking to restructure all pharmacies into family pharmacists and family pharmacies by 2025.


These are guidelines for drug use formulated by medical institutions and regions based on a comprehensive scientific assessment of the efficacy and safety of drugs, as well as their economic efficiency. The goal is to promote standard drug treatment based on guidelines for the use of high-quality, inexpensive drugs. The spread of regional formularies is expected to promote the use of generic drugs and curb the continuing increase in medical costs. These guidelines have already been introduced in Europe and the US, and in Japan, they have also been introduced in some areas.


Generic drugs

A drug which, after the expiration of the term of a patent (substance patent) for the drug’s active ingredients, is manufactured and supplied by other pharmaceutical companies with the same active ingredients. Legally, this is referred to as a “generic drug.”


Health Check-up Station*

Exclusive areas set up within NIHON CHOUZAI pharmacies that are equipped with health consultation and health assessment capabilities in order to support the health of local community residents through disease prevention and pre-symptomatic initiatives.
*The Health Check-up Station is a registered trademark of NIHON CHOUZAI Co., Ltd.

Health support pharmacies

These are pharmacies that possess the basic functions of family pharmacists and family pharmacies and proactively support the independent maintenance and promotion of health by local residents. Healthcare centers must be notified in advance. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare’s goal is to register 10,000 to 15,000 health support pharmacies by 2025.

  1. Cooperation with other occupational disciplines such as medical institutions and nursing care providers within the comprehensive regional medical care system 
  2. A resident pharmacist who has completed health support pharmacy training and has five or more years of practical experience 
  3. An inquiry counter that takes account of personal information 
  4. Display “Health Support Pharmacy” outside and inside the pharmacy
  5.  Handle guidance-required drugs, nursing care products, etc.

Source: A Vision of Pharmacies for Patients” by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare

Hospital-front pharmacies

A dispensing pharmacy located near a hospital that responds primarily to that hospital’s prescription demand. However, an official definition does not exist. Some also function as family pharmacists and pharmacies that respond to prescription demand from many medical institutions, participate in at-home medical treatment, and provide other services

Hybrid-type pharmacies*

Pharmacies that combine the functions of both a Mentaio pharmacy that was opened in front of a train station or in a shopping district and meets prescription demand from a relatively wide area, without being limited to prescriptions from specific medical institutions, and a medical center (MC) pharmacy in a medical mall where a number of medical institutions are located and meets the prescription demand of those medical institutions.
* Hybrid-type pharmacy is a term for a type of pharmacy used by NIHON CHOUZAI Co., Ltd.


Medical service fee revisions

In Japan, fees paid in exchange for healthcare services provided by health insurance are specified for medical and dental treatment and drug dispensing by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare with a medical service fee point table. In addition, the price of drugs is determined by the NHI Drug Price Standard. Medical service fees are reviewed once every two years.


Online Eligibility Verification

Medical institutions and pharmacies can verify patients' medical insurance eligibility online using their My Number Card, which will become mandatory in principle from April 2023. With the consent of the patient, information on past medications and specified health checkups can be accurately shared between medical institutions and pharmacies, and patients can easily complete online eligibility verification, leading to shorter waiting times.


Online medication guidance

Provision of medication guidance to the patient by the pharmacist using a telecommunication device such as a computer or smartphone. Previously, face-to-face medication guidance was mandatory, but the Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Act was revised, lifting the prohibition against online medication guidance nationwide in September 2020 as long as certain requirements are met.


On-site pharmacies

It became possible to open on-site pharmacies within hospital premises following the easing of restrictions on the structural independence of pharmacies and medical institutions in October 2016. These pharmacies can cooperate with hospitals is possible and support for advanced medicine is required. On the other hand, the basic dispensing fee has been set lower than hospital-front pharmacies.

Prescription dispensing fee revisions

This refers to the portion of revised medical service fees that is utilized for prescription dispensing services. Dispensing fees are revised once every two years.


Refill prescription

A prescription introduced in April 2022 that can be repeated within a specified period of time. Refill prescriptions are issued to patients with stable symptoms when the physician determines that a refill prescription is possible. The maximum number of times a refill prescription can be used is limited to three times. Some drugs, such as new drugs, narcotics, psychotropic drugs, and poultices, cannot be used.


Separation of drug prescribing and dispensing

This is a system whereby physicians examine patients and prescribe drugs, and based on the prescriptions made by physicians, pharmacists, who are independent entities from a management perspective, dispense drugs, manage medication histories, and provide guidance in using drugs, thus demonstrating their expertise in these areas. In this way, the system strives to raise the quality of medical care.

Specialized medical institution cooperation pharmacies

Pharmacies certified by prefectural governors as being able to provide advanced pharmaceutical management and special dispensing services to patients requiring specialized pharmaceutical management, in collaboration with other healthcare provider facilities (hospitals, pharmacies near patients' homes, etc.). As of 2021, pharmacies with a high level of expertise in "oncology" treatment have received this certification.