Gemba Kaizen Network in Health Care

Welcome to Gemba Kaizen Network (GKN) !

What is IHI?

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) is an independent not-for-profit organization (NPO) based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A. IHI works both with patients and health care professionals and focuses on motivating and building the will for change, identifying and testing new models of care, and ensuring the broadest possible adoption of best practices and effective innovations.

What is Gemba Kaizen Network? What are its current goals?

Gemba Kaizen Network (GKN) was established by a group impressed with IHI’s activities. GKN is an independent NPO in Japan which aims to inspire, inform, and support Japanese health care professionals to improve their care.
GKN started its activities with the introduction to Japanese health care professionals of ideas and skills developed and proposed by IHI. We translate IHI’s educational materials into Japanese and distribute them with descriptions adapted to circumstances in Japan.
Our website currently contains the following:

Description of Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and Gemba Kaizen Network (GKN)
Japanese versions of IHI's materials with brief description
How you can join our activities, especially as volunteer interpreters

We also opened GKN's Facebook page to reach those who are interested in our activities and to update them with related information.

Why IHI? How can we learn from it?

Some of you may ask, “Why IHI? Why not other organizations? Why one from the U.S.A. where the circumstances surrounding health care totally differ from those in Japan?” While our focus is always improving health care in Japan, we believe that there should be multiple approaches for this, including an effort to learn from other countries. Even if the health care system in the U.S.A. shares only part of the Japanese system, we believe the sense of stagnation about the status quo and the motivation to get through it are surprisingly common in these countries. We do not mean that IHI is the only organization that plays significant roles in improving health care in the U.S.A. We also know there are many organizations that have been contributing to positive transformation of health care worldwide. Rather, we are saying that it was sheer luck for the two of us, Sae and Nao, to take an educational course taught by Maureen Bisognano, the CEO of IHI, at Harvard School of Public Health in the summer of 2011. We then decided to cherish this encounter and follow our inspiration.
The differences in the background of health care between the U.S.A. and Japan, including cultural, social, economic, and ethical aspects, are certainly a concern when we try to learn from IHI’s materials. Taking the documents at face value might lead to misunderstandings of problems and inappropriate proposals. Instead, being familiar with foreign culture, society, and health care issues will give us a good opportunity to take an objective look at ourselves. For example, we can discuss which part of IHI’s strategies can be directly applicable in Japan without serious reserve, which part should be interpreted with caution, and which part is inapplicable.

How to join

Our activities are made possible only with the help of those who understand our goal of improving health care in Japan. We welcome anyone who is interested in translating IHI’s educational materials into Japanese and in joining us otherwise. For details, contact us at

We hope our efforts will inspire our colleagues all over Japan, lead to opportunities for us to learn how we can improve health care, and to connect to each other to further empower ourselves. Any questions or suggestions are welcome at

Best regards,
Sae and Nao

Sae Ochi
Naoaki Ichihara