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Healthcare is an aspect that transcends society across regions, geographies, social-strata, cultural, age and time-period considerations. Every human being yearns for the best possible health condition and long life. Changing lifestyles are causing increase in conditions like cancer, diabetes, and heart diseases.
The top diseases in India (and the number of deaths they affect each year) are –
1.Cardiovascular Diseases (CVD) – 15.4 lakhs 2.Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) – 9.6 lakhs 3.Malignant and other tumours – 7.8 lakhs 4.Stroke – 7.3 lakhs 5.Diarrheal Diseases – 7.2 lakhs 6.Respiratory Diseases – 5.1 lakhs 7.Tuberculosis – 4.5 lakhs 8.Malaria – 3.4 lakhs 9.Diabetes Mellitus – 2.5 lakhs
These numbers are huge, but if we look at the statistics, we would realise that the number of deaths in each of these disease categories has declined significantly in the past 3-4 decades.
The decline in the number of these diseases can also be attributed to the growth of the diagnostic services, through imaging, ultrasound, radiology, and pathology laboratories. People now are opting for early wellness testing and diagnosis as it increases the chances of a positive outcome, saving lives and cost of further treatment. Diagnostics are the first line of defence towards better health and fitness. It is the backbone for ascertaining the ailments and deciding on the correct course of treatment, surgery, and medication. 70 per cent of the medical decisions are based on diagnostics. The diagnostics segment has witnessed tremendous changes in the past 20 years. There has been a movement of sorts with digital & technology innovations driving growth in the diagnostics industry.
The average life expectancy of an Indian has increased from 52.5 years (1980) to 61.5 years (2000) to 69.3 years (2020). This is a huge victory for the Indian healthcare system, and a major contributor to this positive change has been the emergence of the Indian diagnostics segment. The diagnostics industry has played a tremendous role in the monitoring and early detection of various life-threatening diseases. Early detection means that these diseases can be tackled and treated in the earliest possible phases, when they have relatively lesser negative impact on the human body, and when they are easier to treat, and cure.
Health-related quality of life (HRQL) is a central concept for understanding the outcomes of medical care.
Over the past 4-5 decades, improvements in diagnostic and therapeutic options have positively impacted healthcare, and we are experiencing an explosion of innovations designed to improve life expectancy and quality of life. Most of these innovations are focused on the development of new diagnostic procedures, or medical devices like stents, precise diagnostic scanners, and surgical robots.
Diagnostic services play a vital role in spotting the health problems and catalysing informed medical interventions with higher integrity due to evidence-backed decisions. This has had a domino effect on the overall healthcare and quality of life for the patients. Screening & Diagnostics have improved remarkably, with increased complexity and accuracy of the diagnostics.
Advancements in technology has ensured that the machines are less complex, smaller in sizes and portable. This has resulted in usage of many of these devices in patient homes and point-of-care, even in remote regions, enabling treatment of patients away from medical facilities. Quicker access to affordable diagnostics ensures faster and better treatment. Early detections result in lesser discomfort for the patients – both resulting in tremendous cost savings while improving the quality of living. Advancements like robotics have ensured that more and more complex surgeries can be undertaken by the doctors in lesser timeframes and with a much higher level of efficiency and accuracy, reducing duration of hospital-stay, catalysing patient comfort and decreased stress.
There are a plethora of wearable monitoring devices and self-use devices that screen various healthcare parameters – patients can take charge of their health in the own homes and regularly monitor critical health parameters. Many of these can also be monitored by the doctors remotely. These devices have reduced the visits to the hospitals and monitoring centres to a fraction of earlier visits – reducing discomfort, stress, anxiety, cost, and time-involvements. It also reduces the burden on these medical establishments, and they can, in-turn focus on more critical patients.
As the industry grew, it has heralded a major impact on the overall healthcare industry in the country.
The involvement of more and more medical devices across the entire range of health care has catalysed 1.Accurate diagnostics and targeted treatment 2.Reduced the duration of hospital-stay 3.Better healthcare outcomes 4.Increased access to patient care 5.Reduced burden on existing medical resources 6.Cost reductions 7.Higher peace of mind 8.Lessor discomfort 9.Wider spectrum of coverage of healthcare available to the masses
Recognising the urgent need to improve the availability of accessible and quality diagnostics in public health facilities, Government of India under the aegis of National Health Mission (NHM) launched the Free Diagnostics Service Initiative (FDI) in July 2015.
Under this initiative, the NHM supports all states to provide essential diagnostics – laboratory and radiology at their public health facilities, free of cost. In August 2019, the Indian government also introduced the National Essential Diagnostics List (NEDL) which aims to bridge the regulatory gap that do not cover all the medical devices and in-vitro diagnostic device (IVD). With this, India has become the first country to compile such a list that would provide guidance to the government for deciding the kind of diagnostic tests that different healthcare facilities in villages and remote areas require, from the village up till district level. NEDL would enable improved health care services delivery through evidence-based care, improved patient outcomes and reduction in out-of-pocket expenditure; effective utilisation of public health facilities; effective assessment of disease burden, disease trends, surveillance, and outbreak identification; and address antimicrobial resistance crisis. Diagnostics serve a key role in improving health and quality of life. Equitable accessibility, affordability and appropriate use of good quality diagnostics are integral to high quality health care. Accurate diagnostics are indispensable for effective management of diseases, leading to better patient care and clinical outcomes, increase affordability by reducing overall therapy cost and reduce antimicrobial resistance. Indian diagnostics solutions are one of the best in the world, in terms of quality, precision and affordability. And the Indian diagnostics manufacturers are making more and more efforts to make them more and more cost effective, as well as accessible even in the remotest corners of the country. The healthcare industry, in India, is gradually moving towards its goal of catalysing a higher quality of life for the patients.