Q: One year into the Covid pandemic, how do you see people’s approach towards preventive healthcare now?
Deepak Sahni: The pandemic has ushered in a new sense of awareness amongst the masses about comorbidities and their lifestyle. People have become more conscious and proactive about their health, triggered by the health crisis brought by the pandemic. As a result, preventive checkups have seen an industry-wide rise, post-covid.
Q: Why is enforcing regulations crucial for aggregators in the diagnostic industry?
Deepak Sahni: In the diagnostic industry, there are many aggregators, operational in various parts of the country, who are not very transparent with the way they do business, hiding details of laboratories, on behalf of which, they are providing services, their registration status, including compliance with basic quality standards. And on the other hand, the only way to win customer confidence and create a reliable brand image, it’s imperative to offer standardised services.
Due to the absence of regulations, private players now are running for accreditation from national and international agencies like NABL & CAP. Accuracy is of paramount importance in the diagnostic industry and is dependent on innumerable factors. Accreditation ascertains regular quality checks and hence accurate services. Therefore to ensure certain quality standards are maintained in the industry, it’s important to enforce regulations.
Q: How according to you, will technology and data play a substantial role in the diagnostics sector?
Deepak Sahni: The diagnostic sector presents a huge opportunity for technology to improve critical processes in order to improve the quality of service to customers. Effective treatment of any disease needs accuracy of diagnosis, and therefore the diagnostic sector carries a huge responsibility in terms of facilitating highest levels of precision, accuracy and quick turnaround times in the testing and reporting stages.
Advancements in technologies like data analytics, cloud computing, AI, machine learning and robotics, is a great boon to the diagnostic industry when it comes to managing operations, facilitating collaboration, minimizing errors, improving accessibility in far-reaching areas and improving overall patient experience.
There is a requirement to adopt a more analytical approach towards gathering health data to monitor public health and establish trends. All this is possible only through digital means and advanced technologies like machine learning, AI, IoT, etc. With a more aware and knowledgeable generation, we know there will be a demand for greater access to such data-driven approaches in the diagnostic industry.
Q: Seeing the rise in awareness, what are your expansion plans going forward?
Deepak Sahni: We are currently operating in 80 cities across India and we plan to expand our footprint in the country rapidly. We intend to establish more than 30 labs, double our customer base and establish operations in 100 cities by the end of 2021.
The diagnostic services market is poised to grow rapidly in the near future, in fact the entire healthcare sector in the country has been on a constant upward curve and there are no signs of any slowdown. In keeping with this trend, our vision is to strengthen our current offerings and become the go-to name for healthcare and diagnostics in the country. Healthians is in the process of setting up a fully automated labs network and plans to make it one of the largest lab businesses in India. Aiming for faster turnaround times and best-in-class facilities.
Q: What is Healthians outlook for Financial Year 21-22?
Deepak Sahni: Due to the pandemic last year, home diagnostics has arisen as a saviour for people confined at home, and positive experiences have triggered a mindset shift amongst masses from lab-visits to at-home checkups. Just like telemedicine, home diagnostics is still at a nascent stage and lacks penetration at the moment, but this is bound to change as people have understood the convenience of at-home tests.
We feel in the coming financial year 2021-21, home diagnostics will define how we view medical tests and health checkups. Whether it’s the chronic conditions like diabetes or thyroid that require constant and frequent monitoring or preventive health checkups, the diagnostics category’s inflection point has arrived this year with home diagnostics set for unprecedented growth.
The proliferation of health tests at home also helps patients complete the entire health management sequence from home – from blood tests to tele-consultation with doctors and finally, medicine delivery. A complete ecosystem by itself. People would probably visit a lab in the future only for complicated and specialist tests. The treatment of chronic conditions through home health checkups is gradually becoming a habit, as people are realising the value and convenience they offer.
Many players who were into home delivery of medicines earlier have realized the importance of diagnostics and therefore now have included diagnostics as an offering either through partnerships and affiliations. We are quite positive that riding on the above factors, Healthians is going to drive aggressive market expansion and growth through higher investments in technology and infrastructure.