India witnesses rise in popularity of home-diagnostic tests, experts say trend to continue

Several industry experts told Financial Express.com that the severity of the ongoing crisis and increased capacity issues associated with diagnostic testing have accelerated the demand for home-based diagnostics to meet the demand for mass testing.

India witnesses rise in popularity of home-diagnostic tests, experts say trend to continue
In the pre-COVID times, home diagnostic testing was used for conventional issues like diabetes, pregnancy, and fertility. (Image Credit: Pixabay)

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has changed people’s perspectives on many things. Due to lockdowns, curfews, and COVID-19 restrictions people have realised that there are a lot of things that can be done in the comforts of their homes. Gone are the days, when people used to stand in queues for a visit to the doctors or to submit their samples in the lab.

Now everything can be done without even stepping outside the house. Since the pandemic began, there has been a rise in the popularity of at-home diagnotic tests. In the pre-COVID times, home diagnostic testing was used for conventional issues like diabetes, pregnancy, and fertility. Now, the quick and convenient results of home-diagnostic tests is becoming everyone’s choice.

According to industry experts, home dignostic tests are popular because they provide quick results at a lower cost. According to a report by Market Research, the Indian diagnostic labs market was valued at $12319.32 million in FY-2021 and is forecasted to grow at a CAGR of 12.25 per cent by FY2027. There are numerous factors that contribute to it, one of them being a huge demand for minimum pre-analytical errors in the test report.

According to Fior Markets reports, the global at-home diagnostics market will register to value over $6 billion by the end of 2026 and a CAGR of over 3 per cent during the forecast period of 2019-2026. Presently, the United States is the leading market with a range of home diagnostic kit manufacturers vying for the attention of consumers.

“Apart from home self-test kits for glucose monitoring, pregnancy testing, urine diagnosis, and infection tests- people are demanding more home-based diagnostic tests. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted several sectors, but it has proven advantageous to the home diagnostic sector because people are more inclined to stay indoors and self-test when possible,” Neeraj Gupta, Founder, and CEO, Genes2Me Pvt Ltd. told Financial Express.com.

What are the most chosen tests?

The home diagnostic kits available in the market, enable users to check and monitor their health conditions while sitting in their homes. These kits include testing blood samples, glucose levels, and cholesterol, among others. Interestingly, home diagnostic kits are now coming with cutting-edge technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and Internet of Medical Things (IoMT). According to a report by Fact.MR, the demand for glucose test kits and infection test kits is on the rise. The report also forcasts that home diagnostics kits for infections are going to be more in demand as the world is now more wary of infectious diseases. Meanwhile, urine sample tests is the most prevalent with a share of revenue close to 40 per cent.

Several industry experts told Financial Express.com that the severity of the ongoing crisis and increased capacity issues associated with diagnostic testing have accelerated the demand for home-based diagnostics to meet the demand for mass testing. Now, the manufacturers are investing heavily in upgrading the technologies so that customers can diagnose and monitor their health results from the comfort of home.

“With the threefold increase in testing, companies are backing research and development to transform the healthcare delivery system. Home tests are now supported by wearables which are becoming alternative ways to diagnose, monitor, and manage patients and therapies. To keep up with the rising demand for in-home testing, manufacturers are establishing more well-equipped facilities with qualitative testing capabilities,” Gupta said.

‘Soon complex disorders will be diagosed with at-home diagnostic tests’

As the demand for tests increased, the number of start-ups and players in the diagnostic sector has grown significantly. “Innovations are being done to diagnose complex disorders too. Most diagnostic companies are working on testing for menopause, Lyme disease, diabetes, genetic diseases, food allergies, HPV, urine, sleep, saliva, HIV, thyroid, and cholesterol,” Gupta said.

To meet the demands due to the ongoing pandemic, the Indian diagnostic industry was pushed to to devise newer and innovative methods for testing, according to experts. This has led to implementation of the latest high-end technologies to scale up to the demand of the burgeoning volume of tests required to be conducted, with a quicker turnaround time, while retaining a strong focus on quality control, affordability, and accuracy. Additionally, these tests became a safer option for customers who were worried about contracting COVID-19.

“The COVID-19 pandemic ushered in an entire paradigm shift in diagnostics concerning its scope and capacity. The diagnostics industry pushed to devise newer and innovative methods for testing and help people in need to keep them in the pink of their health. At Neuberg, in Delhi- NCR, the number of home collections has increased by 120% from March 01, 2022, to April 17, 2022, compared to the same tenure last year,” Dr. Amrita Singh, Chief of Lab Services (Delhi), Neuberg Diagnostics told Financial Express.com.

Dr. Singh also informed that last year they witnessed 84 percent of tests were done for COVID-19 diagnosis, and only 16 percent was a routine blood test. Whereas this year, the figures were quite opposite, marking 16 percent are COVID-19 tests and 84 percent are blood tests.

People want to focus on preventive healthcare’

According to some extent, advancement of technology and digital transformation in the healthcare sector, also played a crucial role in the rising popularity of at-home diagnostic tests. Additionally, the boom in health conscious contents on social media and COVID-19 have contributed a lot in the evident shift from treatment of diseases to preventive healthcare.

“Prior to the pandemic, the home diagnostic testing business was not on a larger scale and home testing has always been a preferred choice for senior citizens and parents with infants and kids. Today, in order to avoid long queues and crowds, people prefer home diagnostic tests,” Vijender Singh, Chief Executive Officer, Metropolis Healthcare Ltd. told Financial Express.com.

Singh also maintained that the popularity of home diagnostics testing will continue to rise not only in urban but also in tier 2 and tier 3 cities, because of the digital transformation across the country.

He also said that this popularity will further help everyone to be prepared to tackle such pandemic crisis in future. Healthcare will continue to undergo a transformation, and the industry will leverage new technologies to generate new data and support the advent of precision medicine, he stated.

“Regular routine health checks that are advisable to be done once in three months, monitoring of chronic diseases like diabetes and high cholesterol levels dominate test orders in conjunction with tests for covid for travel and monitoring of covid patients at home via accessory tests such as d dimer and fibrinogen and covid antibodies are some of the most chosen tests at present,” Dr. Prerna Agarwal, Manager Technical Operation, Apollo Diagnostics told Financial Express.com.

More advanced patient-friendly tests on the way’

According to Dr. Agarwal, several IVD companies have come forward to support the laboratory medicine diagnostics industry and the hospitals to support in the ongoing pandemic.

“ICMR, DBT and CDSCO have come forward in guiding the industry to ensure regulations are in place with price regulations with individual state governments to provide the best of kits and tests for covid testing. In post covid era, the industry is to focus on preventive healthcare via master health checks to diagnose illl health at the earliest stages,” Dr. Agarwal said.

She also said that the diagnostic labs throughout the country and world are planning to come package tests based on predictive analytics, clinical forecasting, epidemic and pandemic predictions and big data analytics on test orders independent and dependent on geographies, disease occurrence and lifestyle of customers and patients.

“This shall bring a change in the era of diagnostics via digital health where customised testing packages are available with significant medical background to help customers and patients predetermine disease occurrence and approach their physicians for the needful to be done,” she added.

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