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Learnings For Building A Healthy Future
The Covid-19 pandemic has triggered a tectonic shift in the way diagnostics have been perceived
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The diagnostics space has emerged as one of the most critical cogs in the machinery fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s testing that reveals the prevalence and spread of any disease, and it’s testing that makes a critical contribution to public health policy during a health crisis. The mainstreaming of diagnostics, in terms of building awareness and understanding amongst the general population, is what ascribes the sector the central position in public discourse.
The recent pandemic has triggered a tectonic shift in the way diagnostics have been perceived. In the past year, we have witnessed the diagnostics segment learning to develop capabilities to conduct testing on a massive scale, amplifying the accuracy, speed, and reach of diagnosis. And, learning to quickly and rapidly ramp up skilled workforce for the sector, as the industry is fast transforming into a service that is taking diagnostics to people.
The ongoing situation in the country has highlighted that India’s lower and middle class is the worst hit by the pandemic. Hence, it becomes imperative for the government to work towards getting more and more people under health insurance so that out-of-pocket expenses are reduced. While major government initiatives such as National Digital Health Mission, National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Act, 2021, and several others are collectively creating the right kind of ecosystem, the healthcare policies need to take into account the entire value chain of healthcare — prevention of diseases, treatment and health insurance. It is vital to connect all three to achieve the goal of universal health coverage. As an immediate recourse, the government can look towards combining diagnostics with schemes like Ayushman Bharat which will have the potential to provide individuals with access to diagnostics services with ease. Additionally, it is time for the government to open up micro-insurance and ailment-focused schemes that viable for lower & middle-income groups.
The new-age digital technologies and empowering data infrastructure such as 5G is expected to be a game changer, making digital pathology and other advances in the diagnostics space a reality. Powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, digital pathology will help streamline workflow, reduce the pressure on pathologists and allow them to devote more time on diagnosis. By ensuring faster and efficient workflow, it will reduce costs as well.
The diagnostic industry will strengthen reference laboratory segments with a focus on Next Generation diagnostics and has the potential to usher in the era of preventive, personalised, predictive and participatory diagnostics.
The future of diagnostics does not only keep the diagnostic capabilities to labs and healthcare facilities. It is going to be about taking diagnostics to people and empowering them with technology and information. It will be an era where high-end personalised diagnostics will co-exists with highly efficient point-of-care devices keeping real-time monitoring of vital parameters. The idea is to largely democratise diagnostics and entrust people with self-care.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.