Shahid Akhter, editor, ETHealthworld spoke to Dr Ajit Golwilkar, CEO & MD, AG Diagnostics, Pune, to figure out the transition and trends in pathological labs today.
Clinical Chemistry- Colorimetry to Nephetometry
I started my clinical chemistry laboratory 40 years ago, the technology was totally conventional, there were very few tests available and we were doing all those tests by conventional manual techniques. To establish a lab and to start a clinical chemistry lab was a relatively easy job when I look back. It consisted of very few tests which can be counted on fingers and they were all done by manual techniques. Subsequently all these techniques went on changing.
Additional test menu were introduced and additional methodologies came into existence along with additional proteins and biomarkers. This simulta neously helped in disease diagnosis and management of the disease.
AG Diagnostics-Journey so far
If I look back to the period of 1978, I had just completed my MD pathology education and decided to start my own laboratory. There were very few laboratories in the city and there were select tests available to the patients and society in general. That is when I decided to start one.
I had experience for working in Mumbai as it was growing. I used to be in touch with Bombay hospital, as a result I was fascinated by that and thought why not to grow in that direction. So I decided to go on adding to the test menu, the technology as well as for diversification. 40 years back when I started, the number of tests was just about 30-40. Today the number of tests are more than 1000 and with different packages as well as to different combinations they will go beyond 1500 as well. At the same time, 40 years back the technology was conventional and manual and these tests were costing minimal amount. The economics at that time was such that any test will not cost more than 25 rupees. So the total package of tests for a particular patient will not go beyond 100 rupees. Now over last 40 years, probably none of the single tests cost less than 100 rupees. So the package will certainly go beyond 1000 rupees.
AG Diagnostics- Differentiator
The main focus is to give personalised service to patients, to talk to them to know why they have come to me for doing tests. This talk gives them comfort. I also come to know about their problem so that I can give them the best solution and at the same time see to it that they get the best possible economic package along with the best possible diagnosis. And once I develop that confidence in my patient, I have to see that my patients have always relied up on me and they have followed my instructions. They have chosen the tests which I told them and have been benefited by that.
AG Diagnostics- Future plans
AG diagnostics at this juncture has more than 1000 tests, it has more than 30 centres across Pune and serving all the corners of Pune. With this we are giving patients: quality results, diverse facility in shortest possible time and at affordable cost. I personally see to it that we talk to the patients on phone and wherever possible they call them for personal discussion on that problem either on phone or to the lab and resolve the issue by giving them the right advice.
Our future plans are on following sites: one is to go on diversifying the test menu so that we give more diagnostic tests and at the same time, these diagnostic tests should be given in shortest possible time. For example, there are new moralities like multiplex analysis. So simultaneously, 2 or 3 tests can be done together instead of doing only one test. The cost of the test will come down. For example, in case of rainy season, if one needs to do the test for final diagnosis for dengue or chikungunya or final diagnosis for malaria, one will have to do 2-3 different tests. Instead of that there is a probability that at least 2 or 3 all the tests can be done together and the solution can be given in one shot to the patient.
So such new advances can be added in the diagnostic tests. At the same time few more diagnostic equipment as well as the test facilities can be added so that diagnosis of diseases and different types of advanced cancers can be done easily. Patients can be diagnosed and treated at the right time.