In the long term, the laboratory services market in Poland will continuously develop. The number of medical diagnostic laboratories in Poland is growing. 60% of the analytical laboratories are privately owned. Outsourcing becomes more and more common, and external laboratories perform all or part of the diagnostics.
Laboratory services market in Poland – market size and value
The number of single and multi-specialist medical diagnostic laboratories in Poland is growing. According to the National Chamber of Laboratory Diagnosticians (Krajowa Izba Diagnostów Laboratoryjnych), there are currently 2734 diagnostic laboratories in Poland – most of them in Mazowieckie voivodeship (435), and the least in Lubuskie voivodeship (56).
The laboratory services market in Poland is dominated by small and medium-sized diagnostic laboratories. Data for 2017 from the Central Institute for Quality Research in Laboratory Diagnostics (Centralny Ośrodek Badania Jakości w Diagnostyce Laboratoryjnej) indicate that 26% of laboratories are small (1-3 professional employees), 65% are medium-sized (4-24 professional employees), 9% are large (over 25 professional workers). For 10 thousand inhabitants in Poland, there are on average 3 laboratories.
In 2019, over 16 thousand people in Poland had the right to practice as laboratory diagnosticians. Compared to the previous year, there was an increase in the number of people authorised to practice this profession (an increase of 2.2%). At the end of 2019, 10,446 laboratory diagnosticians were working in health care facilities of the National Health Fund (Narodowy Fundusz Zdrowia). In Poland, this profession is one of the most feminised professions, as are the professions of midwives, nurses and pharmacists.
According to PMR report of 2020, the value of the laboratory services market in Poland in 2019 amounted to nearly PLN 7 billion (public and private segments in total), which represented an increase of approximately 5% year on year.
Number of diagnostic tests conducted in Poland
It is difficult to estimate the number of diagnostic tests conducted in Poland, and thus compare it with the numbers in other countries, as there are no statistics on this subject. According to Maciej Szmitkowski, the only information available is the data of the European Diagnostic Manufacturers Association (EDMA), according to which Poland is the seventh from the end in Europe, spending EUR 8 per year on laboratory tests of one citizen. In this regard, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Slovakia are outstripping Poland, not to mention the Czech Republic, which spends over EUR 14 per person on diagnostics. The European average value is around EUR 20, and the best one (Switzerland) spends as much as EUR 45.
Laboratory diagnostics during the COVID-19 pandemic
The times of the COVID-19 pandemic are a difficult period for the entire economy. The pandemic also affected the laboratory services market in Poland. After the first quarter of 2020, PMR report predicted that the number of tests performed will decrease, inter alia, due to the transition of outpatient facilities to telemedicine, the suspension of scheduled admissions in hospitals or the suspension of commercial research by some laboratories. Even conducting diagnostic tests for the coronavirus does not offset the negative effects of the pandemic on the laboratory diagnostics market in Poland. Out of 2,734 medical diagnostic laboratories, only 309 do the tests for COVID-19 (as of April 2, 2021, according to the data of the Polish Ministry of Health).
However, the demand for laboratory diagnostic services is expected to increase significantly in the long term. It will be influenced by the growing public awareness of the huge role of diagnostic tests both in the prevention and treatment of all diseases (including viral or civilisation diseases).
In the opinion of the representatives of the National Council of Laboratory Diagnosticians (Krajowa Rada Diagnostów Laboratoryjnych), this is still an underfunded segment, which is particularly visible in human resources and organisation of laboratories in Poland (staff shortages and low salaries). Experts also point out the deficit of modern microbiological diagnostics and the poor equipment of laboratories in the area of molecular biology.
Outsourcing of medical diagnostic services
For several years, there has been a downward trend in the share of public laboratories in the total number of laboratories. The analysis carried out by PMR in 2018 shows that 60% of analytical laboratories in Poland are private laboratories. Experts say that the ownership division of laboratories is constantly changing, as laboratories are taken over by private capital, especially foreign capital, which in 2017 had around 50% of laboratories in open health care and 25% in hospitals.
Hospitals increasingly outsource laboratory diagnostic services to external entities. According to the 2018 PMR analysis, the laboratory services were performed by an external company in over 200 hospitals in Poland. Outsourcing is a phenomenon more common among non-public hospitals than in public ones. Of the hospitals with a laboratory, approximately 40% of non-public hospitals have an outsourced laboratory. Moreover, PMR analysis shows that outsourcing is the most popular in the group of hospitals with 101-250 beds.
GUS (2020), Zdrowie i ochrona zdrowia w 2019 r. (Health and healthcare in 2019)
Krajowa Izba Diagnostów Laboratoryjnych (National Chamber of Laboratory Diagnosticians)
Grzela E. (2020), Diagnostyka laboratoryjna wyszła z cienia (Laboratory diagnostics has come out of the shadows)
PMR, Rynek usług diagnostyki laboratoryjnej w Polsce 2018 (Laboratory diagnostics services market in Poland 2018)
PMR, Rynek usług diagnostyki laboratoryjnej w Polsce 2020 (Laboratory diagnostics services market in Poland 2020)
Biuletyn Statystyczny Ministerstwa Zdrowia 2020 (Statistical Bulletin of the Polish Ministry of Health 2020)
NIK (2017), Dostępność i finansowanie diagnostyki laboratoryjnej (Availability and financing of laboratory diagnostics)
Szmitkowski M. (2017), Aktualne problemy diagnostyki laboratoryjnej w Polsce, „Laboratorium – Przegląd Ogólnopolski” (Current problems of laboratory diagnostics in Poland, „Laboratory – National Review”)