Total Pageviews

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Successful Pet Insurance Company in Japan

I got an unexpected primer in Japanese pet insurance from one of the veterinarians who attended my November lectures in Tokyo. Dr. Asako Shimamura, a 2002 graduate of the Nippon Veterinary and Life Sciences University, introduced herself as an employee of Anicom Holdings, a growing pet insurance company that markets exclusively in Japan.

In discussions with Asako, and also with Tokyo veterinarians who have benefited from her expertise, I became intrigued by the recent success of her company. From a very small beginning in 2000, they now have more than 60% of the domestic market share for pet insurance in Japan.

When I asked Asako to explain her company’s success, she said, “Many people now regard pets not just as companion animals, but as members of the family. Because of her company’s vision―An insurance group aiming to lessen tears and brighten smiles―Anicom is on the march, with sales tripling to over 9B Yen ($110m US) in the last five years.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Tokyo: A Successful Veterinary Clinic in a Highly-Competitive Environment

While in Tokyo last week, I visited a small animal practice in the upscale Meguro Ward area in the southern part of the city. “There are over 60 clinics within a three-km radius of our hospital,” noted 58-year-old Dr. Hidemi Yasuda, who established the practice in 1982. “Our patient population is about 70:30 dog to cats, with an occasional ferret or rodent.”

Exterior Entrance to Yasuda Veterinary Clinic: Dr. Hidemi Yasuda (center)
with Junya (left) and Mrs. Sanae Yasuda.
Touring the well-groomed facility, I was struck by the efficiency of the operation and the ardor of the staff doctors and their support team. I asked Dr. Yasuda his recipe for success in a highly-competitive environment where clients arrive in a BMW or Mercedes-Benz and expect what he termed ‘better service’.

Hidemi thought for a moment. “The quality of our employees is critical to our success. From Nanayo Hashimoto in our front office to the veterinarians who are responsible for the medical care of the 60 patients who arrive each day, we provide dignified, individualized service for each client and their pet. This is a passion that was ingrained in me during my first job after graduation, when I worked for a pharmaceutical company.”

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dr. Gen Kato, the Father of Veterinary Textbook Translation in Japan

Visiting a modern small animal hospital in Tokyo in early November, I marveled at how far the Japanese veterinarians have progressed in the medical care of companion animals in recent years. And one of the reasons for these advances is evident on the book shelves in veterinary offices where I see frequently-used copies of the most influential veterinary textbooks translated into Japanese.

Dr. Gen Kato and his technician in front of his CT scan machine

It wasn’t always so,” 78-year-old Dr. Gen Kato, explained to me. “When I opened my first small animal practice in 1964, I did not know how to diagnose and treat many of the problems of the dogs and cats presented to me because our veterinary education in those days was mostly limited to large animals.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

An Interview with a Japanese WW II Veterinary Officer

We were only informed that we were heading south, and it was not disclosed how many days it would take to reach our destination.” So began the five-year war journey of a young Japanese veterinary officer in December 1941, as he disembarked from a port in occupied China with 300 horses under his care.

This afternoon, I had the privilege to interview 93-year-old Dr. Takehiko Takahashi, one of the few remaining veterans of the China-Burma-India conflict. Tall and erect, with a surprisingly facile command of the English language, this distinguished gentleman would later in life become president of the Japanese Small Animal Association. With the assistance of a young Japanese veterinary student named Junya Yasuda, Dr. Takahashi shared with me details of how he transported a boat-load of horses through the South China Sea to Thailand, and from there to the front lines in the jungles and mountains of Burma.
Dr. Takehiko Takahashi, November 7, 2010

The horses were secured in tightly-packed quarters in the ship's hold for the journey. Lack of ventilation and the tropical heat became serious health hazards as they coursed south into the tropical sea. The horses that became sick with respiratory disease were helped by treatment with anti-Strangles serum delivered to their boat while en route. Dr. Takahashi was also successful in convincing the ship’s captain to periodically hoist horses by crane onto the upper deck for fresh air and exercise.