A timely and accurate diagnosis is vital to improving the prognosis of the disease and containing outbreaks. The pandemic has drastically altered the perception of diagnostics, and it has now gained the centre stage. With changed consumer behaviour and increased awareness of healthcare, there has been an upward tick in preventive testing, as people have become more aware of the importance of maintaining a healthy life.
Diagnostics was previously a neglected or side-lined aspect of the healthcare system. Owing to the lack of easy access to diagnostic testing, it had become one of the weakest links in the cascade of care for many common conditions—including tuberculosis, diabetes, and hypertension.
Early in the outbreak of the pandemic, Indian diagnostic markets were inadequately prepared to cope with the resulting pressures. The lack of adequate manufacturing capacities, supply chain issues, and reliance on imported diagnostic kits highlighted the inefficiency of the Indian diagnostic market to deal with a contagion of this scale.
Given the nature of the outbreak—healthcare facilities were forced outside hospital boundaries, leading to a rise in home diagnostics. Home testing facilities gained prominence, despite the decline in patient volumes seen in hospital-based laboratories. This trend can be attributed to home confinement and uncertainty surrounding Covid-19, combined with a shift in lifestyle that has led to a strong inclination towards home health check-ups. This trend necessitated a restructuring of the diagnostic industry which has fostered the development of affordable, accessible and innovative diagnostics tools.
Health issues caused by the pandemic continue to adversely impact the lives of people—ranging from scarring of the lungs, cardiovascular issues, kidney damage, neurologic issues, to high blood sugar or Type 2 Diabetes. These health risks have created major shifts in diagnosis management—right from the collection of blood samples at home to teleconsultation with doctors to final medication delivery, this ecosystem is continuously changing to become more home-friendly. Additionally, the convenience factor sets in as the ease of doing health checks are now available at one’s doorstep.
In terms of treatment, doctors are increasingly becoming more evidence-centric and constantly rely on high-quality diagnostic tests to formulate a treatment and disease management plan. Diagnostics results truly are an essential component of decision-making while managing the health journey of a patient.
A large number of geriatrics and an increasingly health-aware population are sure to boost the Indian diagnostic industry in the long run. As per IBEF and the Ministry of External Affairs, the Indian diagnostic market alone is poised to grow to $32 billion by the end of 2022.
There is also the need to develop a more analytical approach in terms of managing and gathering health data through reliable screening tests. There is no doubt that the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital models industrywide, making it essential for healthcare organisations to adopt new technologies. This is critical to containing and controlling global health threats.