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Technological advancements shaping the Indian IVD Industry

Indian diagnostic industry has shown tremendous fortitude, resilience, and character during the last three years fighting the pandemic. This war against Covid-19 could only be won due to the courage shown by healthcare workers and the support offered by the IVD industry. Covid-19 pandemic has also highlighted the importance of preventive healthcare, and the focus on physical and mental health has increased enormously. Large number of patients are now visiting hospitals and clinics for preventive health check-ups. Personalized medicine seems like an exciting opportunity to improve the future of healthcare and transform preventive medicine and take it to the next level. Using personalized medicine, healthcare providers can offer and plan specific management for their patients, based on an individual’s specific genetic make-up.

Embracing technology and automation is the way forward for the Indian IVD industry. Affordability and accessibility to quality diagnostics can be easily achieved via technology adoption in the IVD sector. Advancements in conventional technology will allow diagnostics to be made available in the remotest of places, which can help bridge the gap in services. Diagnostic testing is one of the most important segments of the treatment process, and a major problem currently faced by Indian healthcare industry is access to diagnostics and healthcare services in rural India. There is a lack of accredited and licensed laboratory services, especially in rural India, which is evident from the fact that we have only about 1 percent labs in our country that are accredited. Public-private partnerships, and government collaboration with private players to bring quality diagnostics to towns and rural areas, can be beneficial at this stage. The government has embarked upon an ambitious journey to provide universal health coverage under Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB PM-JAY). Not only is this step quite noble, if implemented in the earnest, it would also come as a blessing to those who need to pay for their healthcare services out of their pockets, often by exhausting their savings. Similarly, a lot is being done by the government under the National Health Digital Mission, whereby the intent of the government is to create a composite repository of healthcare/diagnostics, such that the patients do not face any problem to access quality healthcare.

This is the time when the private sector and the government need to work hand in hand. As about 70 percent of the healthcare is dispersed by the private sector in our country, it is imperative that the government should engage with private players to have the desired impact. At present, only hospitals and nursing homes have been covered under AB PM-JAY, being early days. In order to have a visible impact it is vital to involve the diagnostic service providers directly under the scheme. Given the fact that superior-quality timely diagnostics can bring about huge savings to the exchequer, it is desirable that the government engages with the diagnostic players directly so that they are not left at the mercy of the hospitals to provide quality services without cutting corners. The Center is also planning to increase its healthcare spending from 1.3 percent to 2.5 percent of GDP, and this can prove to be a game changer in terms of affordability and accessibility.

In the coming years, we expect a lot to be done on the data analytics. It is rather unfortunate that despite an enabling structure to dispense healthcare in our country through PHC, state- and national-level hospitals providing tertiary/quaternary healthcare, we have not done enough toward documenting the data. Further, the data being used in India is based on the Caucasian population and we are now geared up to garner data of the Indian population, and with the help of artificial intelligence, we can see a lot happening in this area.

Another area, which will see enough and more action will be the point-of-care (POC) testing devices segment. Globally the POC market is growing, and it is expected that the Indian market will also grow in this area. POC testing is expected to be extended across a much broader range of diseases, and improve patient outcomes.

These are promising times for Indian diagnostic industry despite all the challenges. We have the right intent, people, government support to take the industry to the next level, and to make India the diagnostic factory of the world. All we need at this juncture is to invest in the right kind of technology to ensure delivery of accurate diagnostics to enable early treatment. 

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