The diagnostic industry is a huge support to medical professionals aiding them in correct diagnosis, enabling them to implement the most appropriate treatment modality and improving quality of life for patients. With rapid strides being made in research, this industry is set for further growth. Let us see what are the trends that will dominate in the future.
Every industry was affected by the pandemic and the challenges faced by the healthcare and diagnostic industries during that period were huge. Devastating as the pandemic was, it has in the long run, helped the diagnostic industry. The Indian diagnostic industry has shown exponential growth in the past few years and this trend is projected for the future as well.
Reinvention was the need of the hour during the pandemic times and the diagnostic industry did it by combining technology and digitization. Pushed out of its comfort zone, the industry responded to the challenging situation by scaling up services. It had to meet an increased demand for testing, give quick results and of course accuracy was of paramount importance – the diagnostic industry met all of these demands and more, and is now one of the fastest growing markets which is predicted to contribute extensively to the economy.
Reasons for Growth
There are a number of factors which have contributed to the growth of the Indian diagnostic industry.
- India has a growing middle-class population which is educated and aware of the importance of finding health conditions early. Preventive healthcare, master health check-ups and screening for cancer and other conditions is gaining importance.
- India also has a growing geriatric population which needs routine diagnostic services.
- An increase in the incidence of lifestyle diseases, chronic conditions and communicable diseases has further fueled the growth of the industry.
- To protect health and promote employee well-being, corporates tie-up with diagnostic companies for yearly check-ups and screenings.
- By delivering top quality medical and diagnostic procedures at affordable rates, India is attracting a number of foreign medical tourists which further promotes the industry’s growth.
- Customer-centric service is also responsible for the growth. Diagnostic services are more accessible now with options like at home testing. As a result, even people who are confined to their homes are able to avail them.
- The spread of healthcare services has also led to an increased need for diagnostic services. Coverage of diagnostics under health insurance plans has also played a key role.
The Indian diagnostic industry is highly fragmented in nature ranging from large chains and hospital laboratories to independent testing centres. There are no strict regulations and as a result there are some unaccredited centres with questionable quality. This does cast a shadow on the diagnostic industry and hence there is a need to regulate this aspect.
There are also no set rules with regards to pricing and hence there might be a considerable price difference between laboratories.
While the diagnostic industry is definitely on the path to further growth, it is essential to remember that the common man must be able to access and afford its services. Hence, any future plan should keep this important factor as its cornerstone.
The Future of the Diagnostic Industry
The following trends are expected to dominate the diagnostic industry. They are already in use but are predicted to find more widespread usage and acceptance in the future.
- Genetic Testing: This is a highly advanced test which is much in demand nowadays. There are a number of genetic tests each catering to the specifics of the patient and the condition.
- Predictive Testing: As the name implies, these tests predict the possibility of a patient contracting a health condition irrespective of family history. The possibility of cancer, heart conditions, etc. can be predicted with this.
- Diagnostic Genetic Testing: This testing helps determine the presence of genetic disorders. It can be done at any point of life, even before birth. The benefit of this testing is that it helps doctors determine the best form of treatment for the patient. Chromosome analysis, biochemical analysis, genetic analysis, etc. all come under this category.
- Genomic Testing: Here, the patient’s genome is examined to predict the progress of a condition. This too helps the doctor decide on the best treatment modality. The test is also known as DNA sequencing. Here, the focus is not just on one gene but all of the patients’ genes.
- Metabolomics: Metabolites are produced at the end of or during a metabolic process. Metabolomics involves examining these metabolites to help in precision medicine.
- Proteomics: Proteomics involves studying proteins to determine their structure, function, composition and interaction to develop a protein map which can help with protein regulation. This helps identify proteins that can be used as diagnostic or prognostic markers in a number of health conditions.
- Wearable Biosensors: These sensors help in real-time monitoring of health parameters. They can be integrated into watches, clothes, contact lenses, etc. and they give a continuous output of parameters like pulse, temperature and blood pressure to name just a few. If there is a deviation from the normal range, these sensors give an alert to make the patient aware of the abnormality. They are extremely useful in monitoring a patient’s well-being irrespective of where he/she is.
- Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI): AI makes it possible to analyze large amounts of data (which can’t possibly be done by humans) to give insights which will improve health outcome while bettering patient experience. AI can also analyze images and help doctors diagnose the patient quickly and correctly. AI can become a pillar of support to medical professionals by allowing fast access to relevant patient information.
- Point-of-Care Testing (POCT): While traditional testing methods involve collecting samples and testing them in a laboratory, point-of-care testing takes the testing to the patient. There are a number of POCT tools currently in use like sugar monitoring, pregnancy and infertility testing, cholesterol testing, etc. and this is only going to grow further. POCT leads to fast results, quick diagnosis and quick implementation of the treatment plan. Long-term this means a number of things – reduction in doctor visits and hospital stays, simpler treatment and improved quality of life.