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Oncquest catapults into high-growth trajectory with aggressive network expansion

The current pandemic may have stopped many diag­nostics companies from aggressive network expan­sion but not Oncquest. Last year, when the pande­mic was at its peak, Oncquest Laboratories – announced the acquisition of Quest Diagnostics’ Indian facili­ties from Strand Life Sciences. The acquisition has added a significant muscle power to Oncquest’s growth plans.

The erstwhile Quest Diagnostic’s Gurugram facility was built with best global standards in the year 2008, and is one of the largest lab facilities in Asia. The facility now serves as Oncquest’s corporate headquarters and houses its National Reference Laboratory. The facility is NABL- and CAP-accredited, and can take care of all the segments of pathology testing.

It started as a research entity of Dabur Research Foundation and over time evolved into a network for second opinion and final diagnosis.

As the nation grappled with the pandemic, Oncquest did its bit in putting patient service in top priority. The waves of disaster and ensuing fear created a panic rush for RT-PCR tests. Even the popular pathology chains shut their services for a few days unable to sustain the pandemic test load. Oncquest was one of the few organizations that kept its services going without interruption, moving on like a rolling stock – one batch of employees getting affected/quarantined, the next batch takes over, and so on.

Our journey started with specialized menu first and then ventured into routine tests. This worked to our advantage as we already had the scientific team in place for expansion into routine tests. In contrast, other diagnostic players start with routine and mature into specialized tests. Oncquest personality has been research-focused.

Technological advancements were fast tracked during the current pandemic, the government worked out virtual accreditations of labs/fast approvals, SOPs, apps for nation-wide tracking – all this helped fight the pandemic, using technology with greater ease. Healthcare companies including us adapted fast to offer online/digital solutions.

Post pandemic, there is a growing realization of the importance of digital tools in diagnostics, and the need to identify health issues early. Online channels have mushroomed, offering information, consults, virtual assistants, together with new and innovative concepts like genetics-based testing, etc. Advancements in genetics, information technology, and digital pathology are trans­forming histopathology and many other pathology sub­specialties like microbiology. In histopathology, screen-based reading is being used more than conventional microscopes. Startups operating in niche segments are bringing new and innovative ways to reach out to patients with point-of-care solutions, and can bring world-class healthcare solutions into the remote areas of the country. With the diseases getting complex by the day, there is a growing dependence on diagnostics. With advanced technology and AI-based solutions, the challenges and uncertainties related to difficult diagnostics will be reduced, and accuracy will increase.

Oncquest is a doctors’ brand, and we want to leverage our expertise in B2B segment to expand aggressively into the B2C segment. We have identified our focus cities where we have kicked off an aggressive plan to reach out to the end customers and patients, at the same time ramping up our traditional B2B segment as well.

We have been in the pathology space since the last two decades and have a sound medical team who enjoys a high degree of trust with the medical fraternity. We have been the market leaders in oncology-based testing and enjoy the backing of our promoters who are also the promoters of Dabur.

The industry itself is growing at a CAGR of 15-20 percent and the shift to the recognized chain of laboratories is happening at a greater pace. With the government stepping up accreditations and controls, the more serious players who have invested in quality and accreditations will stand to benefit more than the players from unorganized segment.

We hope to capture a sizeable chunk of the action on the pathology space, and are looking at growing at a greater pace than our listed peers.

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