By Venkata Suman Cherukuri
The India diagnostic industry has shown unprecedented growth in the last few years. The pandemic forced companies to come out of their comfort zones and cater to the increasing demand of testing, fast results and accurate diagnosis. The adoption of technology has further brightened the future of diagnostic companies in addition to the growing middle class, better awareness of preventive healthcare and increased expenditure on healthcare.
The rise of chronic, lifestyle and communicable diseases has also positively impacted the diagnostic industry. The collaboration of corporates and multi-national companies with various hospitals and diagnostic centers for the healthcare checkup for their employees has further uplifted the market. With superior diagnostic services available at low prices, India is fast emerging as a medical tourism hub, witnessing a surge in patients across the world for cost-effective, hassle free and quality treatment options.
It therefore comes as no surprise when studies mark it as a growing sector with an annual CAGR of 11-12 per cent and is projected to contribute unparalleled value in the coming decade.
Reinventing through covid
The pandemic brought a seismic shift in the diagnostic market. It forced the industry to significantly expand its scope and capacity against the growing need for diagnostics and treatment.
Like other industries battling to fight covid’s financial impact on business, the diagnostic industry too had to reinvent itself by integrating technology and digitization. Importantly, the diagnostic services have become more customer centric. Services like at-home testing that drives fast and accurate reporting of infectious diseases, molecular testing, etc. have become the need of the hour and imperative for a diagnostic company if it wishes to have an edge in a competitive market.
In partnerships with various corporates, the diagnostic companies and hospital labs have started offering special discounts and packages to get different kinds of diagnostic tests done for different infectious and chronic diseases. This has created attractive opportunities for the growth of the diagnostics in India.
Need for more diagnostic labs post covid?
The pandemic was a shocking revelation for the Indian healthcare industry. In the face of an overwhelming medical crisis, there was a severe shortage of better testing, accessibility and report delivery. The diagnostics sector faced a severe crisis but with the help of technology and innovation successfully pulled itself out of it.
Today people are leaning more towards preventive healthcare, and most medical professionals worldwide depend on the diagnostics before suggesting the treatment. Additionally, the spread of healthcare services and insurance has made the diagnostic industry the critical segment of the industry.
Fragmented Indian market and its challenges
One of the biggest challenges faced by the Indian diagnostics market is its deeply fragmented nature with large chains, hospital laboratories and standalone centers. The lack of entry barriers and absence of strong regulation in the business has also led to an increase in the number of unaccredited labs unorganized players, which form a key component of this fragmented market.
This hampers the quality and credibility of the industry that is dominated by a few large chains besides various small and regional players. Therefore, industry runs on a high volume and low-cost testing model adopted by most companies. The lack of regulations also leads to a gap in pricing, especially between the urban and rural cities, and therefore demands an urgent look into stricter laws. The covid has also raised the challenge for several small players who struggle to offer fast and accurate tests simultaneously.
Diagnostics should factor in the common man
The diagnostic market is projected to have groundbreaking growth, but there is a need for the players to build a robust omnichannel strategy, that not only includes more value-added services but that also ensures that diagnostic services are affordable for the common man. The whole aim of technological advance should be to offer solutions and ways that are locally affordable, relevant and sustainable. It should generate local economic activity to pave the way for skills
development and long-term economic stability.
It is therefore important that local healthcare systems are empowered with modern facilities that allow it to develop into a skilling institution besides being equipped with quality diagnostics services.
Trends in diagnostics
The competition is stiff in the diagnostic market, and the companies are eager to enter technological gateways to stay ahead of the curve. There is a rise in operations using digitalization tools such as AI for process efficiencies, and this amalgamation of digital technologies and diagnostic tests is on an upswing. AI with its ability to analyze complex data has been excellent in offering value-based care. It has shown greater accuracy in detecting minor radiographic abnormalities and has stirred healthcare worldwide.
Genetic testing is another diagnostic trend which is in vogue
Crucially, adaptive intelligent solutions are helping in bridging the gap between hospitals and patients, improving access to care, especially in smaller Indian cities. The diagnostic industry is playing a stellar role in lifting the profile of the healthcare industry. With more regulations, and a people-friendly approach and policies, it can set itself on the path of staggering
(The author is a Chairman & MD, TRUSTlab Diagnostics. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the FinancialExpress.com.)