Diagnostic Labs Are Leading The Change In Healthcare

Diagnostic Labs Are Leading The Change In Healthcare

Healthians is one of India’s leading home service health testing companies. With the aim of adding 10 healthy years to the life of every Indian, Deepak Sahni founded the company in 2014.

Tsunami CostabirUpdated: Monday, July 08, 2024, 09:25 AM IST
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The diagnostic industry in India has been around for decades but it largely focused on one segment – a symptomatic patient being prescribed a test. Worldwide though, the use cases for diagnostics also extends to preventive healthcare. Preventative diagnostic tests are an ideal way to find out about the prevalence of a potential disease in the body much before it becomes symptomatic. 

“India is very heavy on lifestyle diseases like diabetes, thyroid, hypertension, etc. Most of these diseases do not show symptoms when they occur. You get to know only when they really start to affect you, which could be five to 10 years down the line,” Deepak tells us. For instance, at a pre-diabetic stage, if you change your lifestyle and start taking precautions, you might never become diabetic.

DUBS

Early adopters

During a time when Indian diagnostic companies primarily focused on their back-end, like building big labs and increasing the testing options, Healthians focussed on building a direct-to-patient model. “Through the model, a  patient doesn’t necessarily have to come through a doctor, but can take their health into their own hands.”

Healthians recommends test packages to people based on various parameters like age, gender, lifestyle, symptoms etc. The goal being: getting people to get tests done routinely. This way, either you can rest assured that there is nothing going wrong with your body, or if there is something, it can be worked out at the earliest.

Why direct-to-patient? 

The direct-to-patient model has various benefits, one of which is affordability. Since there is no middleman, the cost of testing is significantly reduced. Through door-to-door services backed by technology, it is also a quicker, hassle-free process.

The preventive healthcare approach also has the potential to save a lot of money in the long run. “We use technology to make testing convenient because we know that when there is no symptom, people don’t have any motivation to take a day off and get a test done. Unless they’re fitness freaks.” 

Diagnostic reports come with free doctor consultations and lots of AI-generated information that allows the layman to understand the report. They also give recommendations on doctor consultations, supplements and other corrective actions for lifestyle. 

The growth story

What started as a 15-person team with services in one city has now grown upwards of 3,000 people, serving 250 cities and 22 labs across the country. For Deepak and his team, it was an intensive process of building the front-end logistics - training people to go door-to-door collecting samples, then building up labs at the back-end, and integrating technology into the whole system to ensure that everything works in sync. “Being in just Delhi NCR for two years gave us the time to learn and make corrections to our business model. Today, we serve over 200,000 patients a month.”

The Covid-19 boom

During the peak of Covid-19, there were times when no diagnostic company was doing routine tests. That’s when Healthians stuck to their core business of blood testing. They serviced people who couldn’t go to clinics or hospitals out of fear of getting infected, but who needed regular testing done.

Doctors doing telephonic OPDs (patient consultations) often needed somebody to go to their patients’ houses and collect the samples for non-Covid-related issues. This helped them build up their credibility and recognition with the medical community.

“Covid gave us two things. One, people realised that getting a home test done is a more convenient, hygienic and comfortable option than taking the traditional route. And second, it brought a lot of attention to health. People understood the impact of comorbidities and got themselves screened for them.”

Using tech to build trust 

When it comes to health tests, companies are dealing with sensitive client information. It also becomes essential that reports are reliable and accurate. For that, they have a system in place where all vials are pre-barcoded. “We have a zero percent error rate when it comes to mixing of samples.”

As a tech-first lab, they make sure everything is end-to-end encrypted and stored on the cloud. The team works with a booking ID or patient ID, but the patient’s name, phone number and email ID remain masked. “We do a lot of audits by an external party along with ongoing internal checks. We also conduct ethical hacking marathons to ensure there are no loopholes.”

“Through our app, you also can see when the phlebotomist is coming to your home. So you're not just waiting on an empty stomach and nobody turns up.” Additionally, the app also shows you the profile of the phlebotomist along with a rating. Once they leave, there is temperature and GPS tracking that ensures the sample reaches a lab within four hours in the right condition. All of this information is available for the customer to see. 

The future of healthcare

The future of healthcare is lucrative in India. Increasing income levels, insurance penetration and the average age of Indians are factors that boost the industry. Deepak is looking forward to the introduction of OPD insurance, which will cover diagnostics. This will be an incentive for more people to become proactive with their health and take tests. 

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