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The war against COVID-19 is far from over!

Is it a coincidence that as the world grapples with a global pandemic, the worst this generation has ever seen, when testing is a universal priority, the Indian diagnostic centers are bleeding whereas their American counterparts are in full form? One benchmark is the soaring stock of leading American labs, Laboratory Corporation of America and Quest Diagnostics (the stock of Quest has moved higher by 15.5 percent in the last one month) against the shares of their three large India counterparts, Dr Lal PathLabs, Metropolis, and Thyrocare that have underperformed the Nifty-50 index. Whereas the American chains are eyeing smaller diagnostic facilities for potential acquisition (Quest recently acquired substantially all of the diagnostic labs from Houston’s Memorial Hermann Health System), the Indian labs are dealing with changing government protocols; price controls; restrictions on being allowed to do RT-PCR tests and not serology; and in some cases temporary bans and limit on the number of tests conducted per day. ICMR, a research body, became the regulator overnight.

In 2020, the healthcare industry, with MedTech hit the hardest, is expected to witness a drop in growth from 5.3 percent to 0.6 percent, and global revenues remaining below the USD 2-trillion mark, forecasts Frost & Sullivan.

The marketing research firm has re-visited predictions, identified top growth opportunities, and analyzed riskmitigation measures adopted by companies to survive the remainder of 2020. The KSA, UAE, and Indian telehealth markets have reached a tipping point with growth of more than 200 percent during the pandemic, while Informatics and AI solutions, addressing workflow automation and operational analytics, are poised for 100 percent growth in 2020. Virtual consultations by healthcare professionals will become the mainstream care delivery model post-pandemic. However, reimbursement, training physicians, and platform scalability will be the key to recalibrating telehealth.

By the end of 2020, 33 percent of global clinical trials will be disrupted, putting USD 3 billion in new product revenues at risk. Disrupted clinical trials and the subsequent delay in drug launches will pave the way for fully virtual trials, and hybridization of patient recruitment, retention, and monitoring will become all-pervasive.

An unforgiving, albeit transformational, year indeed!

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