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INTERVIEW

Maho Isono - Patients should make themselves the center of consultations

Assistant Professor at the International University of Health and Welfare explores how the hierarchy of the Japanese health care system may complicate the patient-clinician relationship

Maho Isono attended Salzburg Global Seminar's session Toward a Shared Culture of Health: Enriching and Charting the Patient-Clinician Relationship

Maho Isono teaches medical anthropology at the International University of Health and Welfare in Tokyo, Japan, and is currently conducting fieldwork regarding traditional Japanese Kampo medicine, specifically regarding the relationships between doctors and patients in this system. Isono attended Salzburg Global Seminar's session Toward a Shared Culture of Health: Enriching and Charting the Patient-Clinician Relationship and spoke about how the hierarchy of traditional Japanese medicine may impede patient-doctor relationships.

"In Japan, doctors have [a] very strong power. It's very difficult for patients to deconstruct that hierarchy," Isono says, noting that carrying the title of Sensei is highly respected in Japanese society. "So, while you call someone Sensei, we tend to hold back, and we should be humble in front of that person. In that sense, it is kind of difficult for patients to articulate all kinds of theories and opinions to doctors."

Through speaking with session participants at Salzburg Global, Isono says she is interested in exploring how these barriers between patients and clinicians could be broken down in traditional medicine, teaching patients to become more involved in their consultations.

"I think we should tell patients how to put themselves in the center of their consultations and their right to be in that position," she says.

Isono hoped to share research into the OpenNotes platform with peers and students upon her return to Japan, introducing the idea of enriching the patient-clinician relationship to Japanese doctors. "Because I'm a cultural anthropologist, I'd like to combine the anthropological perspectives into OpenNotes and make one class," she says.

As a first time participant at Salzburg Global, Isono says she has been overwhelmed by the amount of information she has gathered from other participants, all from different backgrounds. "My experience in Salzburg is refreshing my experience in my life," she says.


Maho Isono was a participant of the Salzburg Global program Toward a Shared Culture of Health: Enriching and Charting the Patient-Clinician Relationship. This program is part of the multi-year series Health and Health Care Innovation in the 21st Century. The session was supported by OpenNotes. More information on the session can be found here: www.salzburglobal.org/go/553.

19.04.2017 Category: HEALTH, FACES OF LEADERSHIP, SALZBURG UPDATES, SALZBURG IN THE WORLD
Oscar Tollast and Nicole Bogart