COVID-19 pandemic has altered the functioning and revenues of the diagnostic industry for few months where RT PCR testing has taken larger share to serve the masses. The sector has played a major role in India’s fight against the Covid- 19 virus.
In an exclusive interview with Financial Express Online, Dheeraj Jain, Founder, Redcliffe Life Diagnostics talks about how the diagnostics sector due to Covid-19 has witnessed other changes as well especially on home collection front where home based diagnostics and self-diagnostics are major mind-set changes that will remain permanent.
Noida based Redcliffe Life Diagnostics, a leading new-age diagnostics company founded with a vision to provide high-end and specialized services in the mother and child care sector. The organization has also ventured into oncogenomics and the routine diagnostics market and has also started to offer preventive health check-ups through routine satellite labs that are set up at various locations of the country.
Tell us about Redcliffe Life Diagnostics’ birth story. What were the major challenges you faced in the beginning?
I together with my co-founders and scientific team founded Redcliffe Life Diagnostics as goal to make India’s fastest-growing specialised diagnostics and precision medicine company focusing on reproductive health testing, rare diseases and cancer genetic diagnostics. The journey since the start till now has been very exciting with share of struggles in the first one year, having own high-end DNA labs, new products, clinical validation, Sales to Key Opinion Leader (KoL) to expanding from 1 doctor to 150 in few months time.
Our offerings were majorly mother and child care high-end specialized genetic testing like NIPS, Clinical exome gradually moving into Oncology Genomics. It was in August 2020, when we started our footprints in the Routine Diagnostics market offering routine preventive health check-ups leveraging our partner and now putting up our routine satellite labs at several locations. These partner labs were sending us genetic samples and we started sending them routine from our doctor/clinicians customers.
Can you explain how the health industry had an impact on the pandemic? How was this impact addressed by Redcliffe Life diagnostics?
During the lockdown, walk-ins (B2C business) have significantly reduced but they are coming back to pre-second wave level by end of August provided no 3rd wave comes. Additionally, logistical challenges such as the movement of samples amid the lockdown with reference to interstate and intrastate restrictions, stopping of OPD services and elective surgeries at hospitals and clinics, corporates working from home among others, the B2B business was clearly affected.
Amongst all our labs in the network offering Covid-19 diagnostic tests, our Noida and Bhubaneswar labs supported RT-PCR tests wave during April and May 2021. Overall, there are estimates that 70% of decisions that medical experts take on patient treatment depend on diagnostics tests, but at the same time, the diagnostics industry in India accounts for only 5% of the total health system costs.
The diagnostics market has been growing over the last five years. There have been various trends at the testing level, market level, and consumer level. Routine blood tests are still the mainstay of the overall industry, though there is a definitive trend towards higher molecular and genetic testing where Redcliffe has clear leadership in few cities in India and especially with KoLs. The recent pandemic has probably opened up awareness of tests using RT-PCR technology as well as expanded the availability and capacity across the country.
What are your field’s recent advancements that have helped your business/service grow?
The diagnostics industry has seen various developments with respect to innovations and these have led to the rise in importance of the sector in the overall healthcare system of the country. Some of them are next-generation sequencing (NGS) where Redcliffe have deep insights from 50000 clinical genetic tests we performed so far, point-of-care (POC) diagnostics, home collection, new advance tests portfolio and tele-health.
In today’s circumstances, what role can diagnostic centres play?
Diagnostic centres have always played a crucial role in contributing towards disease diagnosis which is the first step towards ensuring a steady healthcare system. Some major tasks achieved by diagnostic centres are aid in the monitoring of patients who have an incurable disease, help to reduce the intensity of the situation, innovative approach towards medical experience and help prevent the spread of the virus
Could you shed some insight on the milestones you’ve reached on your entrepreneurial journey?
Recently, we have been on an expansion spree with plans to launch labs in various cities in next 12 months to offer last mile service delivery. We have our 5+ cities own lab presence as of today and have already served 100000+ Direct to Consumer patients in such a short duration of time. We are focused on cities where larger brands didn’t offer complete services and we are doing it with our own satellite team while reference lab in Noida.
We will have 15 additional own labs by Diwali 2021. With the aim to raise awareness about our services and establish a widespread awareness for preventive healthcare in the country along with providing the best medical diagnosis, prompt cure, right guidance to the people of the every city, we intend to be present in every Tier-2, Tier-3 and small towns. Redcliffe Life Diagnostics is working with the belief that proper diagnosis can help to narrow the healthcare gap between rural and urban India.