The diagnostics industry has been growing at a rapid pace in India. Over the last few years, it has witnessed a sea change in its operational procedures. However, it has continued to register a growth rate of above 10 percent. While several factors are responsible for this change, a significant rise in the number of informed and aware consumers is prominent. With increasing knowledge about the positive impact of preventive healthcare, there is a constant change in customer expectations. Dynamic consumer expectations have made it pertinent to offer a quick and effective solution.
The COVID impact
Medical diagnostics became the first line of defense in these trying circumstances. In the battle against contagion, the diagnostics sector has shown operational resilience and the ability to cater to diverse needs. While diagnostics majors introduced tests to track COVID-19 cases, they also launched investigative procedures like the spike protein antibody test to assist clinicians in ascertaining an individual’s response to vaccination. The test determines the growth of antibodies that can protect one against COVID-19. Community-scale antibody tests of vaccinated groups can be used for policy formulation by the government.
India is conducting a rapid vaccination drive which has gained praises from none other than the WHO. However, there has been a recent surge in cases. COVID inappropriate behavior could be one of the prominent reasons for this sudden spike. The sector has been responsive in this need of the hour and is undergoing a transformation that would make it adept at handling contingencies.
There is a wide scope of technology adoption in the diagnostics industry. Diagnostics majors realized the importance of investing in molecular and genetic testing. The pandemic has further augmented the need for imbibing advancements. Several new techniques are being integrated within the domain to enhance its efficiency.
Digitalization. Digital technology has had a dual impact, it has affected the consumers, and at the same time, it has improved the efficacy of pathologists. Technology-enabled platforms are making the sector more consumer-friendly. These platforms help in providing better on-demand service. Diagnostics majors are introducing applications to increase the ease of access.
On the other hand, digitalization has altered the pathologist’s job by increasing its accuracy. Recent innovations like pre-analytical automation and automated modular systems in the analytical phase and the use of cloud and smart reports in the post-analytical phase are not only reducing the turn-around time rather they have also curbed the possibility of laboratory errors.
Artificial Intelligence and data analytics. AI and data analytics combined with machine learning can reduce the diagnoses time in certain fields such as cytogenetic, histopathology and radiology. AI algorithm can help pathologists in reducing subjectivity in their results and increasing the speed of response.
Molecular diagnostics and genomic testing. Molecular diagnostics helps detect diseases at the nascent stage that is not possible in the traditional methodology. Further, the evolution of genomic testing has brought forth a medical revolution. It has ushered in a new era of evidence-based medicine that is personalised, predictive, preventive and participatory. This diagnostics technique rooted in the human genome project would have a transcendental impact on the current clinical practices.
The industry needed an affirmative push from the government. Policy interventions like Atmanirbhar Swastha Bharat Yojna can prove to be beneficial for the sector as it focuses on preventive and curative health among other things. The government’s affirmation of the need to create and strengthen institutes engaged in the detection and cure of emerging diseases can create favorable results. While the founding of new institutes may take time, strengthening the capabilities of institutions like the National Institute of Epidemiology in Chennai, the National Centre for Disease Control in New Delhi, the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Bengaluru, and the National Institute of Virology in Pune etc, can prove to be helpful.
The year 2021 could mark the beginning of a new era in the field of diagnostics. Preventive healthcare that has diagnostics as its axis is of great significance for a developing nation like India. The advancements, if implemented with diligence, would escalate the diagnostics industry to newer heights.