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Medical laboratory challenges and market drivers

The laboratory technology is often at the forefront of medical advances. The demand within the global medical laboratory market is slated to multiply over the next decade. At present market size in 2020 is estimated at USD 200 billion and is expected to reach USD 214 billion in 2021. The entire world is hit by pandemic after a period of 100 years and the crisis has created a sense of alarm across medical industry and medical research has gained momentum in recent time creating fresh opportunity for growth within the global medical laboratory market.

The fettle of medical lab has improved from what existed a decade back. The development improved testing equipment and facilities has created new avenue for revenue generation. The vendors are focussing on providing value in the form of cost effective product and technology. In some cases testing technique to diagnose or screen for a particular condition are available before effective treatment. Innovation in lab includes automation, IT and testing technology.

Testing technology advances through both incremental changes (simpler, efficient, less expensive, higher quality) and breakthrough development (new technique).

  • Esoteric tests. Relatively uncommon test in 1990s, for example PCR was cutting edge technology in 1980, however today it very common;
  • Genetic testing. With the mapping of human genome the field of molecular genetics is expected to grow rapidly during next 5 years. Genetic tests are able to detect gene mutations to allow clinicians to predict predisposition to disease, also helps in determining viral load, prenatal diagnosis, cancer cytogenetics and chromosomal abnormality;
  • Pharmacogenomics. Study is to uncover more and more genes that control individual response to medica­tions and physician should be able to base prescription decision on patient individual genetic makeup; and
  • Nanotechnology. Promises to affect clinical laboratory industry through development of miniaturized com­ponent and devices for chemical processing and measu­ring sensors. This technology is extremely useful in developing small versatile point of care test.

Laboratory information system. Dominated the lab informatics market in terms of revenue it is estimated to grow at 5-6 percent owing toward increasing adoption of LIMS in hospital and research lab. LIMS greatly helps in hospital-based lab for reducing incidence of diagnostic errors, patient health information tracking, in managing high data volume and quality assurance.

Challenges in lab informatics market is lack of trained professionals and lack of integration standards in lab informatics.

Prevalence of TB, malaria and also HIV poses great challenge toward patient care in a developing country like India. However advanced diagnostic technology cannot be implemented uniformly due to economic constraints.

Simple and reasonably priced point of care diagnostics which rely less on environmental context and operator training to be extensively studied/need to develop to achieve early diagnosis and treatment monitoring in non-laboratory setting. Numerous diag­nostic labs which are small in size and mainly run by technicians have to come under the scrutiny of accreditation body like
NABL.

India is managing quite well in the diagnostic segment related to COVID-19 pandemic. I hope and expect advanced and sophisticated laboratory setup with the help of robotics can revolutionize laboratory medicine and help general public to monitor their health and early diagnosis of diseases and it should be done at a fraction of cost in India compared to western countries.