The Indian healthcare industry, which is already one of the country's largest service sectors employing four million people, is expected to triple to $60 billion between 2001 and 2010, spurred by outsourcing of healthcare services by the west, mainly the US. Medical tourism alone is expected to become a $2 billion industry by 2010.
The Indian pathology sector constitutes only 2.5 per cent of the overall healthcare market, with about $1 billion in sales, compared with $50 billion in the US. Right now, it is growing at 15 per cent a year, but a low base means it can grow much more.
Indeed, Indian medical care is fast changing from "opinion based" to "evidence based," so accurate diagnoses has become crucial. Already, nearly three-quarters of treatment decisions are based on pathology results. As preventive care gains popularity, testing will become even more important.
India has about 50,000 pathology labs, but only 100 are accredited to the College of American Pathology, which sets a very high bar, so there is still a market for top-notch testing centres. Ten per cent of the labs are located inside hospitals, and only five, including Metropolis, have national chains.
On the downside, a very small fraction of Indians has health insurance so that might restrict the growth of testing. Indian diagnostic centres still depend heavily on developed countries for quality machines and chemicals.