Health Clinic Opens on JR Chuo Line Platform for Busy Commuters

A health care clinic that has opened on a train platform in Tokyo is an unusual sight, but it could become more common as train companies seek to attract commuters by offering new services.

The Aoi Clinic opened on April 4 at JR Nishi-Kokubunji Station on the platform of Chuo Line trains bound for central Tokyo.

Although there is a pharmacy on the platform for outgoing trains, it is the first clinic to be set up on a platform, according to East Japan Railway Co. (JR East).

A 43-year-old man who works at a construction company and uses the station frequently said the new clinic would be “a lifesaver, as long as I can get an appointment quickly”.

The new convenience for busy commuters comes as the total number of train passengers declines due to shrinking population and the growing number of people working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

JR East said it is working to ensure its stations offer multiple relevant services to commuters by setting up things like co-working spaces, areas to host events like lecture series – and now doctor visits.

The company plans to open more clinics at the platforms in the future, including at major stations along Tokyo’s Yamanote Arterial Line.

JR East said this type of clinic provides convenience for passengers by allowing them to book an appointment while in transit and get checked there with virtually no wait time.

Inside the Aoi Clinic which opened on the JR Chuo Line platform at Nishi-Kokubunji Station in western Tokyo (Takashi Ogawa)

The clinic measures 30 square meters and is equipped with a consultation room and an examination room. Patients book appointments online to see a doctor who specializes in internal medicine or to have blood and urine tests. Ultrasounds are also available.

The clinic also deals with telemedicine. Patients can book online consultations with a dermatologist, otolaryngologist and gynecologist via video from a booth inside.

A 65-year-old business executive who lives near the train station said he would use this clinic if he needed to “see a doctor on short notice”.

The station, located in Kokubunji in western Tokyo, provides train connections to the Chuo and Musashino lines. It receives about 40,000 passengers per day on average.

Souseikai, a Tokyo-based medical company that runs the new clinic, said it expects doctors to spend up to about 10 minutes with a patient.

Taro Kuwai, the clinic’s 49-year-old chairman, said he hopes that by being on the train platform, the clinic can provide “simple and appropriate healthcare services to those who (otherwise) wouldn’t find the time”.

About 30 doctors who work in university hospitals and elsewhere receive patients on rotation.

Kuwai said the clinic also benefits doctors who are looking for more flexible ways of working, as some doctors are raising children at home and seeing patients online.

Aoi Clinic only accepts online appointments. It is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends and public holidays.

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