Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited a hospital in northeastern Japan on Sunday to learn firsthand about the situation surrounding local medical services.

At Nihonkai General Hospital in the city of Sakata, Yamagata Prefecture, Kishida inspected reception work for which the number of staff was reduced through the use of My Number social security and taxation identification cards integrated with health insurance certificates.

Kishida told reporters that it is important to increase the use of the My Number cards with the health insurance certificate functions in order to offer better medical services.

The government plans to abolish the existing health insurance certificates in December this year by promoting their integration into My Number cards.

But the usage rate of the integrated cards remained low at 6.56% in April.

Kishida stressed that the government plans to provide financial benefits to hospitals where the use of the cards increased and take measures to encourage the public to use them.

Nihonkai General Hospital is working to raise its operational efficiency under a related government program.

Kishida received an explanation about the hospital's efforts from its staff and said, "We will work on making regional medical systems efficient and effective from patients' perspective."