Evolution of Path Labs

Publication: Express Healthcare
Posted on: December 08, 2016

Dr Sushil Shah, Chairman and Founder, Metropolis Healthcare, throws light on how pathology business will  transform India’s healthcare sector industry


Dr Sushil Shah

Path labs in India have undergone a colossal shift. There was an era when even basic hormone and thyroid tests were inaccessible to Indians. Doctors and patients had to wait for over ten days before medical decisions could be made. Very few labs attached to hospitals had access to ‘specialised’ tests. Today a hormone test is a ‘routine test’ because we procured the technology, the volumes increased and the price of the test went down, making it affordable for the masses. Our nation has now risen as the centre 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 toward union amongst sorted out players.

A quick look at how the industry has progressed

A transformational period for pathology

The business is profoundly aggressive and cost driven, the pathology business sector is at present 2.5 per cent of  the general healthcare market. This period in history is all about customised and evidence-based medicines, and the coming years will witness a transformation in the healthcare industry. As our insight into genetics and diagnostics is quickly extending, the diagnostic business in India will witness a movement toward molecular diagnostics. Despite the fact that 60 per cent of the present research facility that is offered is held by clinical pathology, which incorporates immunology and haematology, the public’s mind is asserted towards preventive healthcare.

Operating in a highly unregulated and fragmented market

The pathology industry in India is highly fragmented and unregulated. There are more than 1,00,000 laboratories and an appalling lack of regulation has actually slowed the growth of this sector. Corporate and branded players like Metropolis only account for over 15-20 per cent of the market share.

Quality and experience, a major driver

Increase in physician awareness, better clinical outcomes and increasing patient requirement to avail high quality care has propelled the pathology business forward. The shift begun with getting as many tests to India and was further stabilised by setting quality standards. Given the highly unregulated market, quality is left to a laboratory. All laboratories that have accreditations today have availed it voluntarily. Metropolis Healthcare 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 and Superior Customer Experience.

Accreditations are a proof of quality; it is like a stamp. However, to give a customer a superior experience, it is important to build that kind of culture in the organisation. A brand is built on the culture that it provides each and every time. Three decades ago, sample (blood) collection was painful and conducted under extremely unhygienic setting. Most of you readers will vouch for this. You would painfully remember your blood being collected in test tubes with no guarantee of an accurate and reliable report. While building Metropolis, I have been very conscious of our vision which has been rather simple ‘Treat each sample as if it was of your family member.’ This has helped us build unparalleled integrity and empathy. This automatically reflects as accuracy in reports.


Increasing burden of non – communicable diseases

The United Nations has projected that India’s population will reach 1.45 billion by 2028, making it the world’s most populous nation. Further, India will also be faced with the challenge of 168 million people in the geriatric age group by 2026. If India were to leverage its demographic dividend, then it is imperative that it nurtures a healthier population. Although, India has made significant progress in the last six decades on various health parameters, the focus of our healthcare system 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 we are still struggling with the communicable diseases, the disease burden of non-communicable diseases has increased to 60 per cent. India is estimated to lose $4.8 trillion between 2012 and 2030 due to non-communicable disorders. It is therefore critical for India to transform its healthcare sector.

Emergence of the new age customer

The present interest for quality in the diagnostics business is gaining momentum through corporate sectors. As an aftereffect of this, there is a developing interest in the minds of the general society for demanding better pathological services. Henceforth, with the constantly expanding customer demands in India there has been a continuous increment in the quantity of certified pathological labs by NABL.

Though the desires of the patients have expanded drastically as of late, relying upon them to comprehend the complexities of pathological operations is not reasonable.

Alongside a developing feeling of qualification towards healthcare in general, patients expect that these administrations ought to be introduced to them as an exhaustive yet durable package. They hope to receive state-of-the-art facilities for every penny they spend. Subsequently, players in the pathology segment need to oversee tolerant connections viably over the continuum of the mind and coordinate their own work processes to convey clinically valuable patient data.

From curative to preventive

The people in general have now shifted their obsessive focus on curative measures to preventative care and devices that have the potential to more efficiently provide a higher standard of living and better healthcare overall. They are planning and executing preventive healthcare measures ahead of time when the illness have not even manifested. In today’s fast paced lifestyle people believe that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important and individuals are willing to make all kinds of sacrifice for it.

Hence, people now look forward to finding and treating diseases as soon as possible. These trends indicate that the collective 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 eradicated from the root and full health can be retained 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 corporate players have ensured standardisation of processes, it is important that government takes measures to bring in regulation to the diagnostic sector. A change in the regulatory scenario can transform the landscape of the industry. Accreditations need to be made mandatory so as 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.