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Potential of in-vitro diagnostics in India

A healthy population as a productive and participative workforce is crucial for overall growth and development of a country. For this, access to quality healthcare is an important necessity. Globally, healthcare is at a very crucial juncture. Covid-19 was a significant public health emergency; however, the resulting set of circumstances provided an impetus to boost health infrastructure universally. India during 2021–23, also saw a major boost as the central government through a series of measures gave a 137-percent hike in the health and wellness spend, and announced expanded efforts to radically reform and transform the existing healthcare system. Banking on this momentum, the Indian healthcare sector is expecting an addition of USD 100 billion to its market cap over the next 15 years.

Covid-19 pandemic has convincingly demonstrated how vulnerabilities in healthcare systems can have profound implications for governments and overall social structure of our society but on the other hand, this pandemic has brought in-vitro diagnostics to centre stage of the whole medical management framework, and proved its relevance without any doubt. Diagnostics is a predominant component of our healthcare apparatus that helps in reducing the burden of disease and improving overall healthcare outcomes. In about 75 percent of all clinical decisions, in-vitro diagnostics (IVD) plays a very crucial role not only in diagnosing the disease, prognostication of the disease, deciding the line of treatment (theranostics), but also in disease monitoring.

Globally, the IVD market is projected to reach USD 118.5 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 7 percent. On the other hand, domestic IVD Industry, that is still in its infancy, currently estimated at USD 9 billion, is expected to grow at a CAGR of ~15 percent in the next 5 years. India is very peculiarly placed as far as the IVD market is concerned. With a population that is growing at a rate of 0.7 percent, and diverse geographies, we need an India-specific approach to disease surveillance and diagnostics. The dynamics of the industry have also changed; previously the focus of diagnostic landscape in our country was mainly emphasized on ill patients. However, of late the wellness is gaining traction and attention toward preventive health check-ups has gone up extraordinarily. There has been a plethora of benevolent transformation in the IVD space, whether at the proteomics, genomics, the mechanization, equipment, reagents, consumables used, or at the software solution levels. As the demand for diagnostic testing continues to rise, there is an increasing need for reliable diagnostics for early detection and monitoring, as required in several life-threatening diseases.

This recent growth of IVD sector can be attributed to multiple factors. To start with, the demands that we created during the Covid era accelerated a lot of innovation and advancements of the existing technologies. Pandemic-required innovations, such as remote collection and digital pathology, has given a whole new dimension to the market and has the potential to fuel market growth. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing that was always a backstage player became mainstream. PCR has the ability to decrease the turn-around time and provide results with greater sensitivity and specificity. India is a large country with big population that necessitates cost-effective way to diagnose and monitor both communicable as well as non-communicable diseases, with a promise to enhance healthcare outcomes and reduce costs. Point-of-care (POC) testing, that offers numerous advantages in comparison to conventional lab diagnostics is one such mechanism that can provide a way-out to India-specific approach to disease management. The emergence of digital health and connectivity has also given an opportunity to National Health Programs to utilize these, and take diagnostics to rural and remote areas.

To sum up, emerging technological innovations in healthcare, such as biosensors, lab-on-a-chip, wearable devices, AI, etc., are going to further step up the adoption of in-vitro diagnostics in India. 

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