The laboratory diagnostics services market in Poland (the public and private subdivisions combined) was worth almost 7 billion PLN in 2019. This represented an increase of around 5% year on year. According to the latest PMR report, “Laboratory diagnostics services market in Poland 2020. Market analysis and development prospects”, suggests that the year 2020 will be a difficult period for the laboratory diagnostics subgroup, as it is for many other areas of the medical industry and the economy as a whole, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Economic slowdown and decline in research in 2020
PMR estimates, based on data available on 24 March 2020, suggest that the existing restrictions in the external environment, in terms of both demand and supply, have disrupted supply chains and caused a general increase in uncertainty, reflected in, among other things, an increase in the volatility of stock exchange indices, and that these constitute a significant barrier to economic development this year. As a result, PMR expects an almost complete slowdown in domestic economic growth in 2020, which could, according to current estimates, fall to approximately 0.2 % year on year.
The introduction of an epidemiological emergency, and then an epidemic and the resulting restrictions, will also have a significant impact on the market for laboratory diagnostics services. The number of tests carried out will fall, one reason being the transition of outpatient facilities to telemedicine mode, the suspension of scheduled admissions at hospitals, and the suspension of commercial tests by some laboratories. As a result of the worsening economic situation, companies may abandon additional insurance and medical subscriptions or modify their scope in favour of less comprehensive products. Individuals can opt out of research funded from their own pockets.
When will the laboratory services market recover?
The value of the laboratory services market will be positively affected by the carrying out of diagnostic tests for the coronavirus. At the moment, these are molecular tests, but Poland will probably also purchase serological tests for rapid diagnosis. In the opinion of PMR, however, this will not entirely offset the negative effects of the actions described above.
PMR expects that in the second half of 2020 the Polish medical care system will re-establish relatively normal functioning. However, it will not be possible to make up for the downtime caused by the coronavirus (overdue operations, treatment and medical visits, and, consequently, diagnostic tests) by the end of 2020, because of capacity constraints. The market’s rate of growth in 2020 will, therefore, be negative, according to PMR. At the same time, PMR estimates that this will have a positive impact on the market in 2021. In addition, the increase in the number of tests in 2021 will also be affected by the introduction of the Prevention 40 Plus programme, through which laboratory tests are to be carried out on as many as 11 million Poles within five years.
Increased patient awareness of the positive effects of the pandemic
Overall, in the next few years, market growth will be positively affected by an increase in patient awareness. PMR also foresees a general increase in awareness of diagnostic tests among the public – as a result of the epidemic, the attention of the authorities, and society overall, has turned to preventive and diagnostic actions. Epidemiology, the growing offer of tests and the increasing number ordered by doctors will also stimulate growth.
The model assumption of the absence of a coronavirus pandemic suggests that the market should achieve a positive rate of growth in the years 2020-2021 and that at the end of 2021 it should be worth almost PLN 7.7 billion. It is worthy of note, however, that even in the absence of a pandemic, growth might fall short of that of 2019, given the less robust macroeconomic forecasts.
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