Despite the pandemic having a severe impact on a number of industries, the diagnostic sector is set to have a speedy recovery. A drastic shift amongst the consumers is expected wherein more focus will be upon wellness and preventive testing. In pre-Corona pandemic stage, the major diagnostic service providers such as Dr Lal Path Labs, SRL Diagnostics and several others were facing the issues like price increase, volume pressure and rising cost base but post-corona virus outbreak, the worry has shifted to the sustainability of the business. However, some players are bucking the trend by adopting innovative strategies and outlooks to stay afloat.
Impact on Diagnostic Laboratory Market Offerings: Like any other businesses, the diagnostics sector is also facing severe bottlenecks and patient volumes have come down significantly. As the lockdown continues, people seek medical care only for emergency or acute conditions and consequently, demand for diagnostic tests has also reduced. An assessment by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Ernst and Young (EY) estimated that the lockdown is likely to result in operating losses for this quarter of INR 13,400-22,000 crore for hospitals and INR 600-2,200 crore for diagnostic labs.
Government Initiatives: Initially, it was only the government labs which were allowed to do testing within India. However due to high demand, the government gave permission to private labs, who have accreditations, to also test for COVID-19. According to the government of India, a cap of INR 4,500 has been set on COVID testing. Despite the Center providing this figure, the state of Karnataka has imposed a cap of INR 2,250, thereby increasing the pressure on private labs. One of the biggest cost components is reagents, priced at INR 800-1,500, and with the cost of transportation and labour, the figure works out to approximately INR 2,500. An undue cost pressure is being witnessed in the market, with advance payments becoming a norm for all manufacturers & suppliers and deferred payments being witnessed from hospitals (both private and government) to diagnostic players. Few of the private firms which are allowed to do Covid-19 testing include Dr. Lal Pathlabs, SRL Diagnostics, Roche Diagnostics etc.
Research on Vaccines: Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), founded by Cyrus Poonawalla in 1966, is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, which produces over 1.5 billion doses and immunizes. It launched three critical initiatives for defeating COVID-19 virus – one with UK’s Oxford University, one with US-based biotech company Codagenix, and its own recombinant BCG vaccine. The clinical trials have already commenced in the UK. The company is simultaneously initiating production as well, in the hope that when the trials are successful, they would have the first batch of doses ready for use by September or October. Each vaccine is going to cost approximately INR 1,000. The decision has been solely taken to have a jump-start on manufacturing, in order to have enough doses available and the distribution of the doses will commence only once the trials are successful and the vaccine is efficacious as well as safe for use.
Strategies Adopted by Diagnostic Laboratories Players:-
Medall Healthcare: The company has increased its focus on home collection services and has witnessed a significant growth in home collection for routine samples across all regions it is operating.
Neuberg Diagnostics: This industry player ramped up their ‘Anywhere Anytime’ services (home collection service) to offer free round the clock lab services at the doorstep during the lockdown period. Neuberg’s full-fledged sample collection and ECG services are offered in Chennai, Bengaluru, Cochin and Hyderabad.
SRL Diagnostics: This company has partnered with ‘Housejoy’ in Bengaluru to develop mobile testing vans for conducting routine pathological tests, primarily in red zones, it also has witnessed a huge surge in demand for home pick-up of samples. It has also planned to start its drive-through sites/centers for Covid testing in Jammu by June 2020. It already has drive-through sites operational in Gurgaon, Chandigarh and Mumbai.
Other Players: Few major players are also eyeing acquiring smaller unorganized players during this time as many of these unorganized players are facing difficulty in sustaining their business and the major organized players see this as an opportunity to expand their operation and customer reach by acquiring existing business, post an evaluation of their customer catchment area, technology, quality controls etc. to decide on finding the right targets to takeover.
Increasing Demand from the Corporate Sector: Dr Dangs laboratories (a major market player) received significant number of emails from private companies requesting them to test their employees so that they can resume work. Max Healthcare also confirmed they had been receiving requests from corporate sector to conduct tests. Airlines and air travelers have also added to the rush in getting RT-PCR tests. Air travelers now need a negative RT-PCR test 48 hours before they travel, which has resulted in further increase in demand for Covid tests in the country.
Expectations of the Industry from the Government: The health industry is significantly strained due to revenue losses in the current quarter. The industry believes that in the true spirit of a public-private partnership (PPP), the government should release timely payments (usually within a week) as per the agreements signed with private laboratories and hospitals. Rationalization of goods and services tax (GST) for healthcare services at 0% or 5%, instead of the current exemption from GST, is a long-standing request of the health sector, which should be considered now. Due to the exemption, hospitals and labs cannot claim input tax credit, while the cost of several input products and services has increased in the GST regime.
Industry’s Future-The Way Forward: Short-term interest-free or concessional interest rate loans to address the liquidity gap in the industry should be facilitated by the government. However, laboratories need to sustain operations at full scale to support testing for covid-19, which is increasing on a daily basis with the rise in the number of reported cases in the country crossing 2,10,000 cases as of 3rd June 2020.
It is expected that post-Covid pandemic, testing for wellbeing would increase as people will now be making a conscious effort to stay fit, however testing for sick care would still dominate the market. The overall market for wellness and preventive diagnostics was approximately 6.0% in the financial year 2018. It is expected that preventive care/wellbeing testing segment will now grow at a CAGR of approximately 20.0% over the next three financial years. Higher literacy levels are expected to increase awareness of preventive and curative healthcare and in turn boost the demand for diagnostic services. Health tracking mobile applications and online services such as booking appointments online for preventive healthcare checkups, booking a path/lab test, obtaining reports online will further augment growth in this industry in future.
Key Segments Covered:-
India Diagnostic Laboratories Market
Revenue Segmentation by Government and Private Labs
India Private Diagnostic Laboratories Market
Revenue Segmentation by Pathology and Radiology
Revenue Segmentation by Pathology
Revenue Segmentation by Radiology
Revenue Segmentation by Business Model
Hospital Based Labs
Revenue Segmentation by Diagnostic Chains
Large PAN-India Chains
Revenue Segmentation by Tier I, II and III Cities
Tier I cities
Tier II cities
Tier III cities
Revenue Segmentation by Organized and Unorganized Players
Revenue Segmentation by Type of Customers
Revenue Segmentation by Payment Method
Out of Pocket Expenditure
Key Target Audience:-
Government Diagnostic Labs
Private Diagnostic Labs
Medical Insurance Companies
Medical Device Manufacturers
Time Period Captured in the Report:-
Historical Period: FY’2015-FY’2020
Forecast Period: FY’2020-FY’2025
Dr. Lal Pathlabs
Medall Healthcare Pvt Ltd
Suraksha Diagnostics Pvt Ltd
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Ankur Gupta, Head Marketing & Communications