On 5th July, 2023, the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) organized a webinar titled “The Future of Diagnostics in India: Technological Advancements and Emerging Trends.” The event was a platform for bringing together various stakeholders including industry, government, and academia to discuss the latest developments, challenges, and opportunities shaping the diagnostics sector in India.
The webinar was structured into 3 sessions (besides the Inaugural Session) with each session focusing on a specific theme.
Session 1 was titled “Strengthening and Driving of Diagnostics Sector in India”, which discussed the challenges faced by the sector and opportunities to drive growth especially in areas which can address significant public health challenges.
Session 2 was titled “Regulatory Framework for sustainable growth” and highlighted the regulatory aspects around bring about standardisation and quality norms for diagnostic labs as well as devices.
Session 3 was titled “Innovations & Futuristic Technology in Diagnostics” and discussed the new advancements in diagnostic technologies (e.g., AI, Point of Care Testing, new types of IVD etc.) as well as use of digital and automation in managing lab operations.
The inaugural session comprised various distinguished officials from government and public health as keynote speakers.
Dr Renu Swarup, Former Secretary of the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, emphasized the key focus areas for the industry, stating, “The three aspects which need our focus on priority are: Policy, the programs which drive that policy, and most importantly, the people who will be at the heart of that program to take it forward.”
Dr Jitendra Sharma, Managing Director of Andhra Pradesh MedTech Zone, highlighted the need for growth in the diagnostics market, stating, “India’s medical devices import have contracted for the first time in 12 years by 5% and our exports have gone up by 14.8%. Our efforts now should be on driving indigenous development of the diagnostics market as strongly as the overall medical devices market.”
Dr Ravi Gaur, Founder of DRG Path Labs, emphasized the significance of data in driving advancements, stating, “The most important thing today is the data. This data-driven approach will not only enable proactive and preventive care but also contribute to the advancement of medical research in population health management in alternate immortality.”
The event was accompanied by the release of a whitepaper, prepared by Avalon Consulting in collaboration with ASSOCHAM, with a specific focus on the theme of “Innovation and Collaboration: Catalysts for Brand Building in India’s Diagnostics Sector”. Abhimanyu Roy, Executive Director at Avalon Consulting, highlighted the key themes of the report specifically on addressing the challenges of “Access”, “Affordability” and “Assurance”. The report emphasised the need for innovative delivery models to address access related issues especially beyond Tier 1/2 locations. The need for a phased approach to localisation was emphasised stating, “Local manufacturing is a big concern for IVD reagents and devices, and also for the radiology equipment. Therefore, there needs to be systematic thinking around how to we localize. It has to be phased. We cannot expect high value addition from localization from Day 1.”
During the webinar, panellists highlighted the significant benefits of industry-academia collaboration. Veena Kohli, CEO and Founder of Vanguard Diagnostics, emphasized the role of collaboration in facilitating easier access to technology, stating, “There are various ways in which industry-academia collaboration can benefit the Indian diagnostics ecosystem as a whole, with the most important one being facilitating easier access to technology.”
Dr Alka Sharma, Scientist H at the Department of Biotechnology, emphasized the importance of stakeholder cooperation in addressing challenges and bridging gaps, stating, “All stakeholders have to come together and identify the challenges and gaps and figure out how to address those.”
Suresh Vazirani, Founder and Director of Transasia-Erba Group, emphasized the critical role of diagnostic tests in healthcare, stating, “Diagnostics has come a long, long way; even if one goes to a small town, there is high level of automation there.”
Dr Nivedita Gupta, Senior Scientist & Head of Division of Epidemiology & Communicable Diseases at the ICMR highlighted the scaling up of molecular testing capacity in India since the Covid-19 pandemic, stating, “Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the molecular testing capacity in India has scaled up from just a few to 3300 laboratories across the country. It is a very conducive environment to utilize this molecular testing platform.”
Dr Suchita Markan, Scientist E at the ICMR, emphasized the role of technology and point-of-care solutions in addressing healthcare challenges in rural areas, stating, “People in rural areas are first given the treatment, and then the diagnosis is done. For such issues, technology and point of care will help.”
Dr Harsh Mahajan, Founder and Chief Radiologist of Mahajan Imaging, discussed the increased availability of data due to advancements in Radiology and Imaging, stating, “A lot of new API tools, AI applications, and AI algorithms have been developed in the field of Radiology and Imaging, which made the data easily available.”
Dr Phadke, President of Agilas Diagnostics, emphasized the potential of AI-based algorithms in automating report analysis, stating, “AI-based algorithms will eliminate the need for supervision of lots of reports and determine which ones actually need a pathologist’s attention.”
The importance of technology and point-of-care solutions in healthcare decision-making was highlighted by several speakers.
The speakers also highlighted advancements in the field of Radiology and Imaging, particularly the development of new API tools, AI applications, and algorithms, which have improved data accessibility.
The webinar concluded with a collective call for collaboration, innovation, and leveraging technology to further enhance the diagnostics ecosystem in India. The insights and discussions from the webinar will serve as a foundation for future advancements and policies in the diagnostics sector.
Key Speakers addressed at the webinar:
- Dr K. Madan Gopal, Advisor- Public Health Administration NHSRC-MoHFW, Govt of India
- Aseem Sahu, Deputy Drugs Controller(India), CDSCO
- Nagavarshini M., Scientist B/ Assistant Director, Medical Equipment and Hospital Planning Department, BIS
- Atul Grover, Managing Director – India and South Asia, BD
- Rajeev Gautam, President, HORIBA India Pvt Ltd.
- Pankaj Johri, Director, NABL
- Bhupendra Kumar Rana, Founding CEO, QAI & Global, Expert on Healthcare, Quality & Accreditation, Board Member, ISfTeH
- Sudhakar Mairpady, South Asia Regulatory & Government Affairs Director, Becton and Dickinson India
- Abinash Chaudhary, Lead- Government Affairs & Policy, Roche Diagnostics India
- Prahlad Rai Inani, CFO, Life Care Hospitals
- Rajeev Nandan, Head -Market Access and Government Affairs, Alcon Laboratories
- Bhaskar Malladi, Head – Strategy, Agappe Diagnostics Ltd