Article

Changing Trends and Future Perspectives in the Diagnostic Industry

Dr Avinash Phadke

Dr Avinash Phadke, Founder, Dr Avinash Phadke, Pathology Labs & President & Mentor, SRL Diagnostics touches upon the different segments of diagnostics, right from the changes in consumer behavior, the surge in digitization, treatment technologies, lab tests, and knowledge transfer techniques.

Earlier, patients or consumers(when healthy), relied entirely on their doctors to get their tests done. the doctor’s prescription was an essential component of the chain. Since 50 percent of our population is under 35 years of age, they are inclined towards making decisions for their family. They know the importance of health checkups and choose the lab themselves. Most of these bookings are either carried out via websites or mobile apps.

Growing Importance of molecular & Genetics in diagnostics

COVID-19 has shed light on the importance of molecular diagnostics. Over the past decade, many revolutionary products such as GenXpert, TruNAT, and Biofire have entered the market. This has fundamentally changed the way diseases like Tuberculosis and Swine Flu are diagnosed. The Biofire test can detect as many as 25 odd pathogens in a single sample within 1.5 hours. For COVID19 testing itself, a large number of molecular labs were set up in the country. This has allowed a scale-up of infrastructure in all corners of the country. Utilizing this in the next decade will play a key role in infectious and noninfectious disease diagnosis. The above-mentioned companies are also working on multiplexing for Oncology which will cause a paradigm shift in cancer treatment.

Home blood collections

Earlier, patients had to walk-in into the lab to get tests done. Over the past five years, we are seeing a huge change in preference towards home blood collections. Now each lab chain has shown exponential growth in home blood collections and this trend will increase going forward. The focus will be on the entire logistics and service chain for home blood collections.

Also read: PPP Model Providing Right Impetus to Diagnostic Industry

Regulations and price caps:

If NABL or an equivalent is made mandatory for labs in India, it will have an impact on the industry. At the same time, the smaller labs have to be kept in mind and hence there is an entry level accreditation available. Price caps on COVID, TB testing, etc if extended to the essential test list of WHO, will have an impact on the bottom line for labs.

Use of Digital Technology

Every single aspect of the lab relies heavily on a robust IT infrastructure. Right from patient booking, to logistics, to home blood collection and report delivery. It is now an essential tool in the overall system. A robust LIMS with middle ware for auto validation will become the mainstay for labs going forward. Digital pathology for histopathology will see a boost in the coming years and allow pathologists to view sample images from all over the country. Taking second opinions will be much easier. Frozen sections will be more easily accessible from the top histopathologists.

Insurance penetration and its impact

If the insurance sector penetration takes place for OPD testing, this can give a huge boost to the sector. Currently, the insurance covers IPD testing.

Big Data & Artificial intelligence

A few scenarios in which AI and Machine learning will play a role are as follows:

1. Image analysis whether in radiology or pathology. In radiology, X-rays, CT scans, and even PETCT scans will be diagnosed with assistance from AI products. The radiologist\ pathologist will be required to sign off on the report.

2. Predictive markers using existing data. Since labs and hospitals have access to patient data, predictive tools can be developed to predict patient parameters going forward. Insurance covers can also be based on these parameters

3. Inventory management and cost control. Data analysis and ML will be used to predict monthly order values for labs and minimize wastage of reagents.

4. Logistics: Defining the best routes for home collections and sample pickups from hospitals or other labs will be developed with the help of AI and data analysis.

5. Next-gen sequencing: Data analysis is an essential component of sequencing Vienna the sheer size of data generated with each run.

Newer technologies:

CRISPR assays will be made available in different segments for infectious and non infectious disease diagnosis. The trend has started with Feluda and will continue to expand towards other diseases. Next-gen sequencing and predictive oncology will be utilized a great deal more as costs come down and economies of scale catch up. Since India has one of the largest oncology disease burdens, a one size fits all approach will not work going forward and the right drug will be administered to the right patient using these technologies.

The diagnostic industry has seen a seismic shift in the way it operates in the last decade. We will see further consolidation in the industry towards mid to large.

chains and specialized testing along with health checkups. The patient has to always be kept first and the entire supply chain should be centered around him or her for anyone to be successful.

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