If Thyrocare's edge is price, SRL's is reach. It is, after all, one of the largest companies in diagnostics, pathology and radiology, with 42 labs across the country. This allows it to perform 9,000 different tests, compared with Thyrocare's 120.
SRL conducted 50 lakh individual tests in the past financial year, company sources said.
SRL started off in 1996 as the research and diagnostics arm of the Ranbaxy group, which owns Ranbaxy Laboratories, India's largest medicine company in terms of sales. It established its first central laboratory in Mumbai, and in 1998 began establishing franchisee centres across the country to collect samples. It now has 750 such centres, of which 50 are in Mumbai and its environs. The company mostly focuses on hospitals for its client base.
Dr Lal's Path Labs
This is also one of the largest medical diagnostics companies in the country. It has drawn up a blueprint to set up 50 state-of-the-art patient service centres across India by mid-2008 and expects to more than double the number of collection centres to 1,000 over the next five years.
Unlike traditional collection centres, patient centres are owned by the company and are located in areas close to patients' homes. They also provide patients with an enhanced experience in terms of services, ambience and report quality.
They are usually located in residential areas, busy markets and shopping malls.
"The patient service centre is a novel, innovative concept in healthcare," explained Dr Arvind Lal, chairman and managing director. "It will deliver superior diagnostic services to places across India."
Piramal Diagnostics Services
Called Wellspring until recently, this is one of India's largest lab chains, with six 'centres of excellence' and more than 600 collection centres. It belongs to the Piramal Group, which owns Nicholas Piramal, one of the country's leading medicine firms and a stock market darling. The lab has an annual revenue of Rs 150 crore. It claims to be the most profitable firm in this field.
Girish Mehta, president, explained that unlike many laboratories, the company did not compete on costs. Instead, it focuses on high-end tests. "We believe patients will choose quality over cost," he said.