By Dr. Angeli Misra,
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus the vital importance of diagnostics and its key role in diagnosing a disease and determining a treatment modality. While the diagnostics industry has been rapidly trying to keep pace with the Sars-Cov-2 virus and its emerging new mutants in a veritable combat mode to meet the huge challenge in catering to the deluge of urgent sample collection, testing and delivery of accurate and quick results, at the same time, it has been devising innovative techniques and newer tests to deal with the Covid-19 crisis for better accuracy, shorter turnaround time, accessibility and affordability.
In effect, it has re-affirmed its key role in contributing not simply to disease detection, treatment and disease management for better patient outcomes, but also in creating increased awareness towards the dire need for affordable and accessible healthcare facilities overall, as well as towards the importance of preventive healthcare solutions. Besides this, it has provided an impetus to extensive research by using the collated data in aiding the process of assessing the country’s disease burden and formulating a roadmap for sustainable future healthcare strategies and have better preparedness in the event of a countrywide, as well as global pandemic situation in the future.
The testing equipment manufacturing industry too, has received a huge forward thrust due to the demand for providing upgraded equipment, creating newer software applications, and devising newer testing methods which require shorter turnaround time, while stressing on increased accuracy and precision in testing. The way forward for the diagnostics industry is genome testing and the implementation of artificial intelligence (AI)-based analytic solutions to cope with the anticipated increase in the total volume of tests to be conducted in the wake of a possible third wave and its aftermath, over the next 2-3 years.
The pandemic has also helped to increase the level of ‘diagnostics literacy’ on an individual consumer level: i.e. the consumer/patient is now better informed and extra-cautious about his health status. For example, the common man has a greater awareness now about the crucial role timely testing has played in controlling the spread of the virus. Also, the lingering after effects of Covid-19 and its long-term ramifications on the body’s organs – post-hospitalization and otherwise – have triggered the need for diagnostic tests along the way for regular health monitoring and screening during the road to recovery. In the presence of co-morbidities like diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disorders and kidney disease among others, there is a greater awareness for constant monitoring and screening to avoid a health emergency in the future. Furthermore, there is also an increased awareness of one’s immunity status after getting the vaccine shots administered and knowing the amount of antibodies present in the body to fight the infection in the future through diagnostic tests – again, for better preparedness in the event of a third wave. Therefore, the benefits of preventive testing have come to the fore in a big way.
(The author is Director, Lifeline Laboratory. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)
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