Bullish on the Indian market, the $7.3 billion New Jersey-based Quest Diagnostics is looking to strengthen its presence in the growing domestic healthcare business through specialised testing services. As part of its India-specific strategy, the diagnostic information services firm is developing innovative diagnostic tests and advanced healthcare information technology solutions and has tied up with HCL, which has diversified into the healthcare sector through its subsidiary, Avitas. The focus of Avitas is to set up India’s largest healthcare network with a robust technology backbone and electronic medical records (EMRs); provide long-term patient care through evidence-based medicine; and associate with Johns Hopkins Medicine International to bring clinical expertise and global best practices to India.
Mukul Bagga, managing director, Quest Diagnostics India, said, “We are looking to strengthen our presence in the growing domestic healthcare business through specialised testing services. The lack of awareness related to importance of quality in pathology testing has resulted in a huge volume of the pathology services outside hospitals being present in the unorganised sector. Moreover, specialised testing in India is still at a nascent stage due to lack of awareness about these tests, wherein a certain time lag exists between a test being introduced in the West and then finding its way to India.”
While the pathology testing market, according to the Quest Diagnostics India MD, is growing at double digits, there is clearly a under penetration/utilisation of pathology testing in India due to lack of quality and accuracy in testing services across the country. “While almost 70% of decisions around medical treatment are based on lab results, however, only 2% of healthcare market is the lab testing industry in India. This gap can be attributed to poor access to healthcare—India being a self-pay market, lack of awareness and lack of confidence on the quality of testing. The low entry barrier with little or no regulation for setting up of diagnostics labs and NABL accreditation being voluntary and not mandatory has led to less than 1% of the over 1,00,000 labs in the Indian market to get accredited to NABL.”
According to Bagga, the availability of skilled manpower, especially for histopathology, molecular testing and genetic testing, is limited in the country too. “The Clinical Establishment Act 2010 passed by the central government is a step in the right direction but its implementation in various states is still under process.”
On Quest Diagnostics becoming a technology and lab diagnostics partner