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Indian diagnostic industry – Touching new heights

IVD sector of healthcare industry is one of the largest and overwhelming sectors of the Indian economy, both in terms of both revenue and employment. It has been growing at a CAGR of 22 percent since 2016 and provides employment to 10 million people directly and indirectly. Our aging population, a growing middle class, the rising proportion of lifestyle diseases is major reasons for such aggressive growths. The Covid-19 pandemic times have not only encountered us with challenges but also provided several opportunities for Indian IVD industry to grow in leaps and bounds. The Covid crisis has opened the floodgates for Indian start-ups, many of whom have risen to the occasion and accelerated the development of low-cost, scalable, and quick solutions. Further, the pandemic provided an impetus to the expansion of telemedicine, and home health solutions in the country. All these factors came together to make India’s healthcare industry ripe for investment.

Indian market is also offering opportunities for players in the IVD industry, that are directly linked to healthcare industry. There is a growing emphasis on Public-Private Partnership models in as well on improving existing gap in the healthcare delivery system. Indian market being cost competitive and equipped with rich human capital makes it an increasingly favoured destination for medical tourism.

In any commercial model, demand and supply play an important role. The gap in demand and supply is instrumental in growth planning and is equally helpful in understanding potential forecasting. Certain demographic and epidemiological trends are likely to boost the demand for healthcare as well as influence the nature of health services demanded in the years to come. One such trend is rising income and expected transition of lower class into the middle-class category in India over the next 10 years, thereby enhancing their purchasing power, included healthcare affordability. Another important trend is the increase in life expectancy, that is likely to increase over the next couple of years. Though India has the largest population of youth compared to any country in the world, , the number of senior citizens, that is, >60 years age is also growing. Lifestyle disorders are on the rise, due to a combination of rising incomes, accelerated pace of urbanisation and increased life expectancy. The fat consumption in diets is increasing, which alongside reduced physical activity, is leading to an upswing in obesity, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. India currently has around 60 million diabetics, a number that is expected to increase to 90 million by 2025. It is also estimated that every fourth individual in India aged above 18 years has hypertension. Thus an ageing population with a growing middle class and greater longevity will boost the demand for health services in India as well as increasingly favour wellness and preventive services. Additionally, an increase in the prevalence of lifestyle or chronic diseases coupled with higher purchasing capacity will enhance the demand for specialised healthcare.

Medical tourism is another strong driver of growth for India’s healthcare sector. India is fast emerging as an attractive destination for travellers with medical needs from across the globe. This is definitely a promising trend for the IVD sector.

IVD represents a sunrise sector of the Indian economy. The high prevalence of chronic diseases, increasing use of point-of-care (POC) diagnostics, and rising awareness and acceptance of personalized medicine and companion diagnostics provide the requisite impetus. Not only is IVD acting as a backbone for diagnosis, it also acts as tool to bridge gap in the healthcare system.

The increasing number of cases of chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and others in the country is the key factor driving the market’s growth. The ICMR 2021 Report observed that the number of cancer patients in India are expected to rise from 26.7 million in 2021 to 29.8 million in 2025. This rising burden of cancer raises the need to detect cancer early for more effective and timely treatment, increasing the demand for in vitro diagnostics. Furthermore, emerging technological innovations in healthcare, such as biosensors, lab-on-a-chip, wearable devices, and POC diagnostics, are increasingly becoming an important part of the healthcare landscape. POC testing helps bring testing closer to the patients and obtain results quickly for the healthcare provider to expedite diagnoses and subsequent treatment. These will all help the IVD industry grow and expand presence in India. The infectious disease segment is expected to witness healthy growth in the invitro diagnostic market in India over the couple of years to come along with focus approach of wellness category. The factors instrumental for the market growth are the rising prevalence of infectious diseases, Rising demand of wellness portfolios, the shift from orthodox methods of testing to point-of-care testing, and rising research and development activities on infectious and lifestyle related disease diagnostics.

Point-of-care diagnostics offer quick, helpful and accurate information for patient care right where the disease is being experienced. As a result, several IVD companies are concentrating on research and development initiatives to create newer and cost effective point-of-care and in-vitro diagnostic solutions. This is anticipated to increase the market growth over the couple of years to come along with better and faster turnaround time for diagnosis.

Furthermore, the rising awareness among the population regarding the spread of infectious diseases and the need for a diagnostic test is also expected to increase the demand for in-vitro diagnostic products in the country, hence boosting segment growth. Therefore, owing to factors such as the rising company activities in developing new smarter products, increasing new product launches, and growing awareness for illness and wellness test portfolios and infectious diseases among the population will help IVD industry to grow leaps and bounds.

The fast increasing number of well-informed consumers consumers and an increasing demand for rapid disease identification and wellness centric approach, have helped the IVD space grow exponentially and will keep this face in coming times as well. As a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, the demand for Hi-end testing as the core standard for diagnosis of disease has surged ahead because of the vast number of samples involved and a need for faster turnaround times. Molecular Biology has come forward as a new faster and gold standard technique to deliver expected outcomes.

Until recently, IVD was dependent on a single type of technology namely orthodox techniques of testing which also required a certain type of infrastructure. Today the technology as well as the practice of IVD are going beyond all these limitations and are newer and smart inventions. The diagnostic labs in India are expected to undergo significant transformations driven by technological advancements, newer techniques, new age equipment, evolving healthcare needs, and changing patient expectations and experience as well.

Today, labs are implementing technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in their day-to-day operations for faster turnaround times. It would be very interesting to see the future of diagnostic labs evolving from old techniques to new age solution providers. The future role of laboratories will be more focused toward quality control thus reducing laboratory errors, retests, resulting outcome shall be more précised, faster and dependable. Digitalisation, robotisation, and automation are giving rise to smarter laboratories which can readily handle the increasing demands from healthcare providers. Their effectiveness has equipped consultants with faster and accurate diagnosis and consumers are also benefited with early start of treatment at much lower cost. However, for getting optimum results, distinguished resource planning, futuristic investments and collaborations shall reduce cost pressure by providing better productivity and sustainability. 

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