Medical laboratories are defined as the independent, commercial enterprises that provide information to the healthcare professionals about the severity, onset and reason of patients\’ physical ailments. Medical laboratories include biological, bacteriological, histological, pathological and chemical analysis, urinalysis and dental and medical X-rays. About 70% of the health care decisions taken by doctors for treatment of diseases are based on the results of laboratory testing which makes the medical laboratories a vital part of the global healthcare system. Based on the testing services, medical laboratories market is segmented into four major categories that include:
- Routine medical testing
- Esoteric medical testing
- Anatomical pathology testing
- Diagnostic imaging testing
Routine medical testing includes full body testing including eye checkup, blood test, diabetes testing and others. Esoteric testing includes tests for rare diseases or substances that are not performed in the routine medical testing. Anatomical pathology testing includes histological analysis and urinalysis. Diagnostic imaging testing includes radiation procedures such as X-ray, MRI, CT and ultrasound used for diagnosing the patient’s condition through imaging of internal organs.
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Medical laboratories market is growing at a faster pace majorly due to increasing need for medical testing in aging population. Additionally, rising shift towards preventive care testing, compelling for technological improvements and innovations is also driving the medical laboratories market. While the demand for medical laboratories has increased many folds in recent years, this market is also posing a major challenge in the form of inadequate skilled workers. Moreover, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in healthcare sector has decreased at an annualized rate of 0.6% over the last five years i.e. from 2009 to 2013.
Lack of availability of skilled professionals has forced operators to boost the salaries to attract new talent and retain the current employees. However, the rising use of standardization and automation in medical laboratories has helped mitigate the wage costs.
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North America and Europe leads the medical laboratory market majorly due to scientific advances and aging U.S. population. According to the data of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2010 there were 40 million people aged 65 and above in the U.S. accounting for 13% of the total population and CDC projected that around 20% of the population of U.S. would be under this category by 2030.
Moreover, the healthcare reform legislation formed in 2010 in U.S. has benefited the growth of medical laboratories market. With the help of this reform, access to medical insurance has increased in the U.S. boosting the demand for medical laboratories and shrinking the out-of-budget costs for the general population in availing the medical testing services. However, the reimbursement cuts on few medical testing procedures is restraining the market in U.S. and Europe as the reimbursement policies are available only on few testing procedures such as in high-margin esoteric tests and genetic testing.
Asia-Pacific is growing rapidly in medical laboratories market majorly due to growing awareness about the medical testing services, government support to improve healthcare sector and introduction of new and improved testing procedures by major market players in this region. Asia-Pacific Federation for Clinical Biochemistry and Laboratory Medicines is the regional federation, which includes the members from seven countries of Asia-Pacific region. This federation is focused on spreading awareness and improving patient conditions with respect to the access medical laboratories and other testing procedures.
Some of the market players in the medical laboratories market include Quest Diagnostics, Inc., Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings, The British United Provident Association, Ltd., NHS Blood and Transplant, London Ambulance Services, Fargo Medical Laboratories, Labco Quality Diagnostics and LifeLabs Medical Laboratory Services.