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How is the healthcare industry surviving in the post-pandemic period?

A lot has changed since the beginning of the coronavirus pande­mic. With almost everybody get­­ting affected by this deadly virus, a signi­ficant shift has been observed in the way indivi­duals now prioritize their health and well-being. While in the beginning of this pandemic, a lot relied on the frontline medical personnel, now with the help of well-equipped labs and timely testing, everyone is doing their bit to be disease free and live a healthy life.

Emergence of evidence based medicine. An important aspect that was born out of all chaos of the pandemic is evidence-based medicine. As aforementioned, individuals are now exhibiting an increased seriousness toward their health and are taking steps to correctly identify and diagnose their ailments. Even the doctors are rapidly aligning themselves to this practice. Their focus is now on offering targeted and quick diagnosis, which can only result from proper testing at reputed labs. These test results not only offer the prognosis of the ailment but can also be vital in offering the doctors insights on the best treatment plan along with the right choice of medication.

Low insurance penetration and acceptance. As vital as this practice may be in charting the proper treatment course and enabling a better and healthier lifestyle, many Indians are still reluctant to get themselves properly tested. Statistics show that on an average, people in India get themselves tested just 1.5 times a year with just 2–3 tests as compared to other developed nations of the world, where a single visit accounts for 12–13 tests. This reluctance can be attributed to high costs and out-of-pocket payments. Unlike in various countries of the world, end-to-end insurance payments and associated processes have not seen much success. However, with easily available literature guiding indi­viduals toward affordable and accessible insurance policies, better turnaround times for claim disbursal, insurance is gaining wider acceptance amongst Indians. This is a step in the forward direction, which will promote individuals to inculcate the much-needed habit of timely testing.

Improving the sector with technological advancements. The testing industry has grown by leaps and bounds in the past couple of decades and seen a wider adoption due to the techno­logical advancements in the field. Unlike how it was 30–35 years ago, where lab result accuracy was questionable at best, and automation was used only by large to mid-size laboratories, it is not the case now. Today, high automation coupled with artificial intelli­gence (AI) has changed the scenario 360 degrees. While AI leaves no room for error, automation ensures delivery of accurate results that in turn empower doctors to take well-informed medical decisions.

Shift in the mindset. The pandemic not only impacts the way individuals prioritize their health, but has also brought upon a change in the mindset of the medical fraternity. The lockdowns forced these medical organizations to source the vitals right from the testing kits a reagents to testing equipment, from local Indian manufacturers rather than from other parts of the world. This was the much-needed nudge to explore the abilities within the country.

Now, many of these local manufacturers are producing equipment at par with the world’s best, and supplying them world over. This shift also garnered interest from large medical conglomerates and giants to view India as the next big thing in the pharmaceutical world.

The future is bright. The technological advancements, better insurance penetration, enabling local manufacturers and distributors, are all a step toward a superior healthcare ecosystem. Even though as a nation, India is still behind in the IVD industry in comparison with other nations, we are evolving rapidly.

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