Diagnostics - Enabling productivity: Leena Chatterjee
Out of 0.7 million deaths from occupational diseases in the world, 17 per cent is contributed by India
According to WHO (April 2008), every year, out of 11 million cases of occupational diseases in the world,1.9 million cases (17 percent) are contributed by India, and out of 0.7 million deaths from occupational diseases in the world,17 percent is contributed by India.
The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) states that a few of the leading work-related illnesses and injuries affecting the workforce, are occupational lung disease, occupational cancer, cardio-vascular diseases, occupational asthma, disorder of reproduction, neurotoxicity, noise induced hearing loss, dermatological conditions, and psychological disorders. With a major shift to lifestyle disorders over the past decade, due to high stress levels, lack of exercise and irregular eating habits, there is a rise in non-communicable diseases which is affecting employee productivity. Accurate diagnosis, which is the backbone of preventive health checks, assumes great importance in curtailing these conditions.
The approach of a physician in the diagnosis of a particular condition has undergone a metamorphosis. While clinical evaluation remains important, diagnostics form a critical step in the management of most disorders. Specific diagnostics can greatly bolster the doctor’s ability to arrive at a conclusion and thus, treat his patient effectively.
According to an article, ‘The Growth Path-Diagnostics and Pathological Testing Market in India,’ around 70 percent of treatment decisions in the country are based on lab results. Moreover, the diagnostic and pathology services are projected to account for $2.5 billion in 2012, more than double its estimated current size of $1billion. These figures emphasize the importance of diagnostic tests in the current scenario and the impact that newer research has had in the launch of specialized technologies and testing.
As per industry estimates, there are over 40,000 independent pathology labs in the country servicing around 1-1.25 million patients per day. However, only a handful of these laboratories are accredited. Laboratories in India are accredited by a national body called NABL (National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories) and a few laboratories are also CAP (College of American Pathologist, USA) accredited. A quality laboratory also incorporates into its processes Good Clinical Laboratory Practices (GCLP) and Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) guidelines.
Further, accuracy of tests conducted by a laboratory could also be gauged by the availability of standard operating procedures for all processes carried out by the lab and efficient quality proficiency testing programs. It is also essential to monitor every step in the workflow process - pre analytical, analytical and post analytical along with efficient IT support to provide interfacing of results and minimal manual entries to minimize errors. There should be continuous quality improvement programs and upgradation of tests based on global standards.
Quality diagnosis from an accredited laboratory or imaging centre will improve patient care immensely and facilitate the overall preventive and curative healthcare scenario. This will result in increased employee productivity and reduced medical bills.