The onset of varied health challenges were magnified manifold with the global pandemic. The world is still reeling under the after effects of this deadly virus coupled by significant other daunting health challenges. Preparing for the future opportunities thrive for inventors, entrepreneurs, researchers and industry to come together to co-create an advanced diagnostic sector & new healthcare technologies. Embracing open innovation mindset can amplify the reach of healthcare professionals to benefit an extensive population.

Taking this mandate forward, over 43 speakers shared their outlook, thoughts and insights during 8 invigorating sessions and through industry & scientific presentations at the third edition of the Elets Diagnostics Leadership Summit.

The two-day summit saw discussions revolve around ‘Need for Accreditation for ensuring quality testing and outcome’; ‘CBC+ESR for chronic disease patient care – changing cost dynamic and Turn Around Time’; ‘New Age Diagnostics for Infectious Diseases: Novel testing platforms, technologies and solutions’; ‘Role, Scope and Opportunities in Lab Automation Market for enhancing diagnostics operations management’; ‘Digitization and IoT for accelerating the pace of Innovation in Diagnostics’; ‘Need for concrete framework in Co-creation of a Futuristic Diagnostic Sector’; ‘Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) – Use of novel technologies’ and ‘Focus on Accreditation and quality for Enhanced Diagnostics’.

The need for accreditation was synonymously echoed by panellists all across the two days of the discussions. Along with this, changing technological trends also garnered much attention. Dr Smita Hiras Sudke, Lab Director – Global Reference Lab & Zonal Technical Chief – Telangana, Apollo Diagnostics stated that everyone is seeking reports at a faster pace and automation is really helpful to enable that. Dr Sanjay Arora, MD and Founder, Suburban Diagnostics shared that CBC is the most common test and has now become all encompassing. He added that a lot more automation is being done in ESR testing.

The session on ‘Role, Scope and Opportunities in Lab Automation Market for enhancing diagnostics operations management’ was moderated by Indranil Roy Choudhury, Chief Operating Officer, Apex Kidney Care Pvt Ltd. He shared that automation in the healthcare industry, especially in diagnosis, is reducing errors, enhancing efficiency and improving operations. He further added that as we move towards automation and a more technology-driven diagnostic industry, the government needs to look at reducing import duties on diagnostic equipment and technology.

Sukrut Jobanputra, CEO & Executive Director Labassure stated that without automation, we couldn’t have survived the COVID scenario. He averred that at times it is felt that automation compromises your flexibility to handle variability & in terms of quality as well we need to balance the automation vs nonautomated procedures. He added we need to realize that just with automation we’re not assured to be more effective, efficient and better.

Dr Sarjana Dutt, Director- Molecular Biology and Cytogenetics, PathKind Diagnostics (P) Ltd said that Automation is not only at the instrument level but at the software level as well. She further averred that automation would certainly bring down the TAT, it will increase efficiency, reduce the error rate. However, only if we decide, automating which part of work planning would bring more benefit.

Dr Geeta Chopra, Chief of Labs & Technical Operations, North SBU, Metropolis Healthcare Limited stated that there are three phases – pre-analytical, analytical and postanalytical and the pre-analytical phase takes up 60 per cent of the TAT. One can encourage use of online registrations, barcoding, etc. to reduce the time and logistics also need to be improved.

Dr Leena Appicatlaa, Head of Labs, HCG Hospitals (Pan India) shared that labs can opt for a cloud-based system/software which not only resolves problems of data storage but also helps reduce costs. On the question of whether automation take away jobs, she responded with a no but added that automation creates a new type of job and we need to be updated and upgraded for those opportunities.

Dr Shelly Mahajan, Lab Director & Clinical Lead – Genomics, CARINGdx Lab Director & Pathologist, Mahajan Diagnostics, Mahajan Imaging said that we are already advanced when it comes to automation in labs and I think there is a scope for more. She averred that we are practicing in a world with an ever-evolving need of delivering the best. I think we’re moving in the right direction. And automation does not mean an alternative to the workforce but to make their jobs easy.

The session on ‘Digitization and IoT for accelerating the pace of Innovation in Diagnostics’ had an all women empowered panel deliberating on how digitization is changing the diagnostic. landscape.

Dr Jatinder Bhatia, Director, 360 Diagnostic & Health Services Pvt Ltd shared that in the past 2 years, digitisation has been adopted in the healthcare industry in a big way. It has also been instrumental in reducing the cost of tests and a test that was done at Rs 1000 earlier is possible at a cost of Rs 100 today.

Dr Barnali Das, Consultant Laboratory Medicine, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital Executive Member, IFCC Scientific Division & Chair, AACC India Section, CAP Inspector & NABL Assessor stated that Digitisation has enabled forming strategies and guidelines for integrating all the stakeholders in the diagnostic sector and its operations. She added that digitisation has not only reduced human errors, streamlined lab processes and management, but has also helped in generating more revenues.

Dr (Prof) Group Captain Renu Madan (Retd), Head of the Department Pathology and Lab Medicine, Venkateshwar Hospital averred that We can bring our lab & testing at our fingertips with the help of technology. She also shared that when we have big data we also have a big responsibility to safeguard it and how IoT is going to be the future of the world. Not just for the healthcare industry but for other industries as well.

Dr Sunita Kapoor, Director & Laboratory Head, City X Ray & Scan Clinic Pvt. Ltd. spoke on how inventory management and financial management have been optimized in a big way after the digitisation of processes and the adoption of lab information management systems.

Dr Anjali Bhutani, Director & Head – Department of Lab Medicine, Max Super Speciality Hospital – Mohali stated that digitisation and automation have increased the productivity and efficiency of the lab. It has also reduced the costs. We can handle each and every aspect of the lab operations effectively and in a hassle-free manner because of digitisation.

The session on ‘Focus on Accreditation and quality for Enhanced Diagnostics’ was moderated by Dr Ravi Gaur Principal Advisor Spice Health (Spice Jet Promoters Venture) Founder Dr G Path Labs, Co Chair CII Delhi Chapter Health Committee who shared that Techdriven concepts like QR code, accreditation are an important part of the healthcare sector today.

Dr Simi Bhatia, Director Operations of SRL Reference Laboratory & Technical Director for Network and Fortis Labs averred that accreditation helps in building quality and safety, and it also helps in promoting staff skill development. It is meant for every process and holds criticality in terms of efficiency and quality.

Dr Neha Rathor, Consultant Microbiologist, Sr. Quality Manager, Chairman HICC, QRG Medicare stated that enhanced diagnostics has been there for 15 years now. But with the advent of BAR codes, enormous amount of efficiency is achieved.

Dr Puneet Nigam, Senior Vice President Medical Services & Quality and Chief of Laboratory Services, Metropolis Healthcare Limited, North India called for making accreditation user friendly. He commended the efforts of the country in delivering in adherence to accreditation, especially during Covid with a higher number of labs coming up and multiple numbers of diagnoses done.

Dr Sunita Deshmukh, HOD Lab Sciences & Blood Bank, Paras Hospitals stated that Accreditation involves a lot of documentation. So, unless you are in practice of keeping the records, you cannot clear the audit.

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