KAKEHASHI Bridges the Disconnect Between Patients and Pharmacists (Part 2)



CEO of KAKEHASHI, Mr.Yutaka NakaoWhat is the best way to resolve issues surrounding Japanese Medical Care? KAKEHASHI was created in 2016 to revolutionize “drug stores” for the medical field. The company is focused on developing an innovative system called “Musubi”, which would allow pharmacists to access medical records electronically.The founder and CEO of KAKEHASHI, Yutaka Nakao, previously held the position of MR at the Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, and was introduced to the issues and possibilities that surround the medical and pharmaceutical fields during his time there.We sat down with Mr.Nakao to discuss the challenges of creating a Start Up, issues surrounding the medical field, and the various features of “Musubi”.

Read Part 1


――Currently, something called “Health Tech”, a cross between Health Care and Technology, is becoming popular in Japan. 

“Prevention” is the most popular topic within Health Tech, and many health management Apps are emerging. Of course, B to C services are also important, but most users of these App already have a high sense of health awareness. If anything, the most important aspect of medical care is to encourage patients to become more conscious of managing their health. People in need of medication have to visit a drug store, which would make the pharmacy the most effective space to provide healthy lifestyle advise to patients. I believe “Musubi” will be of value in this space. That being said, our service is merely a support tool. The main player is still the pharmacist. There are some things that only humans are capable of doing, such as reading patient’s facial expressions and making difficult decisions. “Musubi” cannot replace a pharmacist, but rather, acts as a system to bridge the gap between pharmacists and patients.

 ―― Since the Health Care Industry has strict regulations, projects attempting to expand into this market are thoroughly examined. I would imagine that establishing a Start Up in this industry is difficult.

Yes, the regulations do make it difficult to establish a Start Up, but as long as you abide by the regulations and offer something of value, the difficult entry into the field is worthwhile. Another important factor is to make sure you are offering something different than any other company. There are numerous medical record systems that already exist, but there isn’t yet any system that compliments and enriches the work that pharmacists do while simultaneously promoting health awareness to patients.Out of the 200 pharmacists we observed, we spent approximately 3 hours with each one, looking at their daily operations and asking questions such as “what are you thinking when you do this” or “why is this function necessary”. “Musubi” is a result of analyzing our observations and combining it with functionality and design. We have poured over several designs to ensure it is extremely user friendly. Through discussions with UX Designers and Pharmacists, we have worked towards a system that will give patients maximum value. Through this process, I learned that it is a lot harder to eliminate functions than it is to create functions.

―― What do you think is the most important factor when starting up a business?

For a Start Up, “people” are everything. If you have the right human resources, then strategy, ideas and funding will follow. Having founded a Start Up, another key ingredient is taking action. Anyone can think of an idea, but acting on that idea is what makes an Entrepreneur. Therefore, when you’re establishing your business, the people you do it with are extremely important. About 3 months before I quit my job and after having decided to become an Entrepreneur, I wrote down what I can do, what I can’t do, and what I want to do. Based on that information I determined what type of human resources I would need. I visited places where I thought I could find these types of people and introduced myself to as many possible. Through this process, I met my co-founder, Nakagawa, who is from McKinsey, as well as Pharmacists, Engineers, Designers, and so on. It is truly thanks to them that this has been such an exciting journey.

 ――What working culture have you established that has attracted these talented people to commit to this business?

The most important thing is to develop a flexible working culture and allowing your co-workers to work in environments that suit them best. They can decide when and where they want to work from. Instead of promoting the idea that “you must be always busy if you work at a Start Up”, I promote the idea of “schedule your work accordingly so that you can live your happiest life”. We trust that each individual is an expert in their field and we respect each other. We give feedback that will foster growth. Establishing this kind of working culture is my goal. I’m not sure if it is because of this, but recently I am constantly being referred by people, establishing future recruitment and collaboration opportunities.

 ―― I can feel how important it is to you to foster happiness and growth among your co-workers. For our last question, can you tell us about your visions or goals for the future?

My goal is for pharmacists and patients to say “thanks to KAKEHASHI, patient-pharmacist relationships have improved”. Instead of viewing pharmacists as our “clients”, we view them as co-workers, working together to figure out how to improve this industry. In fact, currently I am meeting with pharmacists about once every other week to discuss the future of this industry. We hope to develop a plan to actualize how to offer more value to patients.I’m also passionate about spreading awareness of pharmacists who are already making a difference. As a part of this goal, I have established a general incorporated association known as the “Pharmacy Support Association”. We have an event planned for April 9th of 2017 to present the “Pharmacy Award” to pharmacies that are making an effort to improve the patient experience. The beta version of “Musubi” is scheduled to be released in March of 2017, so the road to changing the Health Care Industry and “creating a brighter future for medical care” is just beginning.