Dr Sushil Shah, Chairman and Founder, Metropolis Healthcare Ltd.
The world of pathology labs has grown by leaps and bounds in the past decade. Years ago, getting a basic hormone or thyroid test was an impossible task. A regular test results would take easily ten or more days, thus delaying critical medical decisions. Very few labs attached to hospitals had access to ‘specialised’ tests. Thanks to the new New ageAge and , readily available cutting-edge technology being readily available,, the entire scenario has changed. Today, hormone tests are considered as part of the routine and affordable for the masses. Our nation has now risen as the focal point for worldwide research and futuristic innovations. With the extension of the clinical trials market and vast openings for medical coverage, there is a pattern towards union amongst organiszed and established players.
The pathology business makes up for a mere 2.5 per cent % of the general healthcare market share, yet it and has yet displayed a relatively an aggressive and cost- driven nature. The current state of science is all about customiszed and evidence- based medicines and as such, the coming years will witness a transformation in the healthcare industry. As our insight into genetics and diagnostics expands faster than a lay man person can catch up, the diagnostic business in India is all set to witness a movement toward molecular diagnostics. Around 60 per cent % of the present research facility is offered by clinical pathology, that incorporates immunology and haematology, but the public’s mind is now increasingly asserting towards preventive healthcare.
Operating in a highly uncontrolled and fragmented market
The pathology industry in India has been uncontrolled and fragmented since its inception. There are more than 1,00,000 laboratories across the country aiding in critical diagnostics and medical decisions. The lack of regulation enforced by the government is appalling, and has definitely slowed the growth of the sector. Corporate and branded players like Metropolis, who follow international standards of practice and maintain uniformity in service, only account for over 15-20 per cent % of the total market share.
Quality and experience, a major driver
The pathology business has been thrust forward due to heightened physician awareness, better clinical outcomes, and increasing patient requirement to avail high quality care. The shift began with getting increasing number of tests to India and was further stabilised by setting quality standards. Accreditations are a proof of quality, like a stamp. An organisation has to ensure that a culture is developed and ingrained in to the system to ensure that the customer receives superior experience on every single visit. This culture will ensure that brand name and goodwill is developed. Three decades back, sample (blood) collection was painful and conducted under extremely unhygienic setting as experienced by most of us. The blood being painfully collected in test tubes had no guarantee of an accurate and reliable report. While building Metropolis, I have been very conscious of our simple vision which was ‘’Treat each sample as if it was of your family member”.” This has helped us build unparalleledintegrity and empathy. This automatically reflects as accuracy in reports.
Given that the market is highly unregulated, quality is left to the laboratories. All laboratories that have accreditations today have availed it voluntarily. Metropolis Healthcare Ltd. is accredited by CAP (College of American Pathologists), the global gold standard in accreditations and NABL (The National Accreditation Board for Testing & Calibration Laboratories), the only regulating body in India &Superior Customer Experience.
Emergence of the nNew age Age customer
Advancement in technology, access to information, and businesses adopting a customer- centric approach to marketing and servicing has given birthgiven birth to a new breed of customers. They are more aware, social media savvy, and expect and demand certain facilities. However, patients cannot be relied upon to comprehend the complexities of pathological operations, even when they have years of medical knowledge at the tap of their fingers. In addition to developing feeling of qualification towards healthcare in general, patients expect that these administrations and services should be introduced to them as an exhaustive yet durable package. They hope to receive state- of- the- art facilities for every penny they spend. As a result of these drastic demands, players in the pathology segment are pushed to oversee tolerant connections viably over the continuum of the mind and coordinate their own work processes to convey clinically valuable patient data.
Increasing bBurden of nNon- cCommunicable dDiseases
India is on its way to becoming the world’s most populous nation by 20218, estimates the United Nations. They have projected the population to grow to 1.45 billion, with 168 million people in the senior age group by 2026. Keeping in mind these statistics, it is imperative that we start nurturing the healthier population right now. One of the major problems with this is that although the health sector has shown major progress in various fields in the last six decades, the focus has been mainly on curative care. However, with rising disposable incomes, changes in lifestyle and increasing population, we are witnessing a significant change in the disease pattern in the country. While the medical professionals are still struggling with curing and eradicating communicable diseases, the burden of non-communicable and lifestyle-induced diseases has increased to 60 per cent. India is estimated to lose USD4.8 trillion between 2012 and 2030 due to non-communicable disorders. It is therefore critical for India to transform its healthcare sector.
From cCurative to Preventivepreventive
Prevention is better and most definitely cheaper than a cure. The smart customers of today have realised the true meaning of this and have now shifted their obsessive focus on curative measures to preventative care. They prefer investing in devices and routines which have the potential to provide a higher standard of living and better overall health care.
In today’s fast- paced lifestyle people believe that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important and individuals are willing to make all kinds of sacrifices for it. Some even go to the extend of engaging in preventive healthcare measures well ahead of time, when the illness have not even manifested.
These trends indicate that the cumulative conscious of the public has now shifted from curative to preventive healthcare. They are aware that some kind of illness is eventually going to hit everyone, but when caught early it can be treated effectively at the source and full health can be recovered successfully. The general public are now educated about illness and their symptoms, and what it takes to maintain good health overall. Due to the expensive nature of healthcare, more and more people aim for preventive healthcare to save themselves from heavy financial losses. And this is going to turn around both diagnostics and healthcare business in India.
An appeal for regulation.
While private corporate players have ensured standardisation of processes, it is important that government takes measures to help bring in regulation to the diagnostic sector. A change in the regulatory scenario can transform the landscape of the industry and hold individual players responsible for the services provided. Accreditations need to be made mandatory to ensure labs maintain basic protocol. This will ensure more accurate reports, right diagnosis and disease management, and in-turn better healthcare costs for the masses.