Our country needs a regulatory body to keep a tab on the mushrooming of labs that lack appropriate criterion for establishing such centres, informs Zoya Barar, Founder & MD, Core Diagnostics in coversation with Romiya Das of Elets News Network (ENN)
Brief us about Core Diagnostics presence In Vitro Diagnostics (IVD) domain
Core Diagnostics is a high-end diagnostic lab. The focus is on innovation in the diagnostic segment and bringing in the best technology across the world to India and making high super specials technology accessible for patients here.
How do you perceive Indian IVD industry with other developed countries across the globe?
In Vitro Diagnostics (IVD) is a large spectrum in which pathology diagnostics there are two types of tests one is routine and other is the esoteric diagnostics, which is high in demand. If we compare India with US our total market is US $ 2 billion out of which only 100 million caters high-end diagnostics. We have a good market when it comes to routine diagnostics while the high-end ones we dont have enough players. There is a need for consolidation, but there is enough opportunity for the same. For instance, if somebody needs to go for a blood test they dont have to go beyond their colony as there is enough access. The high-end space as of now is building up, three years back there was nothing available. There were some labs that were sending samples up to Stanford or University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) or somewhere else for a second test or opinion, but nobody was offering it in our country. As of now, there are enough people who can afford high-end diagnostics. Taking only 10 per cent of the 100 billion population (100 million that is one third of the US market) and that 10 per cent can afford anything, they can sit on a plane go to America and get treated. So why is there nothing available? There is enough marketsize. The market is very exciting on the high-end side there is growth and investors are very positive about this space. The future is very bright for this industry.
What are the latest state of innovation and trends heading the IVD industry?
There are a lot of interesting things happening, there is next genome sequencing which gives a lot of options to both cancer patients and patients with rare disorders. This sequences all your genes and tells you which treatment or lifestyle will work for you. There are also diveres algorithms and informatics which are availavle. On the pathology side there are 30-40 inputs easily available even if you donâ€™t go into high-end diagnostic space. There is a good opportunity for organisations on the diagnostic side even on the other parts of IVD to create a platform that integrates all the information and gives a solution. And I personally feel that is the next big thing.
What are the challenges faced and how did you overcome them?
Hiring has been a continuous challenge for the company. I believe we have less talent pool available in this arena compared to rest of the world. Keeping people motivated and ensuring that they stay with you is quite a challenge.
Therefore, it is quite a task to firstly identify people, getting them join the organisation and making them stay. On the government side, I will separate pathology from rest of the IVD sector as it has lots of challenges in devices, pharma etc. We do not face many challenges due to our present lax regulatory environment. There is a need to have a regulatory body. At present anyone even from a non pathology background can open diagnostics establishment.
Technically, they will need just the machines and they can start printing reports and nobody can question because there is no regulatory body. There is an accreditation body and now we are National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) accredited but even that doesnâ€™t cover everybody. It is a voluntary accreditation and there is no compliance need for it. A lot of labs are mushrooming in every nook and corner and we have no idea what are they are doing. A patient is not aware of who is actually giving an authentic report.
There is a need to have a regulatory body. At present anyone even from a non pathology background can open diagnostics establishment
From the patients perspective why would they opt for labs like yours than multi-speciality hospitals? How do you face the competition?
We are not in competition with any multi-specialty hospitals instead we have tie ups with 100 such hospitals across the country that are sending us work. The kind of work we do they cannot do in-house. For example, certain hospitals lack technology, volumes, expertise etc. We have contracts with various hospitals suchas Medanta, Max, Artemis, Narayana Health in Bangalore, Saifee hospital in Mumbai.
What are your companyâ€™s expansion plans in the upcoming years?
Beyond Delhi and NCR we are present at 57 more cities. Out of country, we have expanded and have operations in various neighbouring countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and UAE. We are picking up samples from these countries and bring it back here. Geographically, we are growing month over month. In terms of test menu, we started with 30 tests and presently we are close to 1000 tests. Core diagnostics started with oncology, but now we are doing expert diagnosis on the reproductive, infectious diseases. As far as the technology is concerned, we are constantly upgrading and adding a couple of equipment that we didnt have initially. This year we will be introducing two or three unique platforms, not available in the country today, which will reduce the cost significantly and offer advance test that other diagnostics centers are not offering.