Here's How Singapore Diagnostics Built A World-Class Laboratory
The local lab is rated among the world's best
In the Philippines, there is an inequity epidemic in the quality and accessibility of healthcare services. Good healthcare typically comes with prohibitive price tags, and most medical facilities plant themselves in Metro Manila. This is why Singapore Diagnostics (SGD), one of the top local diagnostics laboratories, made it its mission to democratize affordable and world-class diagnostics services in the country.
How can this improve the healthcare industry? Ritche Evidente, SGD’s president and CEO, said, "This is critical because laboratory results are the basis for many medical decisions. They monitor changes in a patient’s health and help doctors determine any diagnosis, prevention, and treatment needed."
Here’s how SGD plans to make world-class healthcare accessible across the country, in Evidente’s own words:
A laboratory in a basement parking
This was how Evidente first encountered SGD as a customer in 2013—no office space, just a few desks arranged neatly in a row, in the basement of a Makati building.
Humble as it seemed, the basement operation soon became a leading medical laboratory, and eventually the Philippine flagship company of Pathology Asia (PAH), a top independent laboratory operator in Southeast Asia and Australia. This gave the basement operation all the backing and technology to become a leader in the country’s healthcare industry.
And it did. A decade later, SGD grew to become one the biggest local diagnostics labs with over 200 medical technologists, and 30,000 patients served each month.
Evidente pointed to SGD’s unique business model as the reason it grew so quickly. First, SGD processes lab tests for other institutions. “We currently run tests for almost 600 other laboratories. Also, it’s highly likely your favorite hospital or clinic is already our partner and has some of their tests processed by us,” he revealed. Second, SGD provides laboratory tests directly to patients. Third, it builds and operates laboratories for other institutions. “Think of it as a BPO for laboratory work, an outsourcing arrangement if you will. If you have a medical facility, we can build and operate the lab for you.”
This is also how SGD plans to reach its target of operating in 50 to 70 sites across the country before the year ends. “Through our partners, we service around 30,000 patients a month, but we want to double or triple that soon,” he said.
Leveraging its ties with Pathology Asia
As a subsidiary of Pathology Asia—which has laboratory, genomic, and digital health operations in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Australia—SGD invests heavily in its team to be at par with these countries. One way is by conducting regular training led by experts worldwide.
“We have received recognition for one of our employee programs. We provide specialist training in hematology, immunochemistry, and microbiology. Close to half of the team has voluntarily received specialist training. We are also in the process of providing continuing education to upgrade the knowledge and competencies of the team,” said Evidente.
Moreover, SGD invests heavily in laboratory quality and accesses some of the more complex and rare laboratory tests through its ties with PAH. These, along with its employee programs and stringent procedures to ensure quality work, help SGD maintain its accreditation from the prestigious College of American Pathologists, which it first received in 2018.
“Getting the accreditation is like a seal of good housekeeping—that your processes, your team, and your lab results are accurate and among the best in the world. When you get this accreditation, all the 300 laboratory tests in your test menu are benchmarked against the best hospitals and medical centers in the world,” Evidente explained.
The laboratory of the future
This year, SGD also plans to finish building its updated core facility in Metro Manila. It will have the capacity to run 500,000 tests a month—the volume equivalent of 50 mid-sized hospitals. It will also be, according to Evidente, the country’s most modern medical laboratory.
To stay updated with technological advances, Evidente has a trick up his sleeve: “I came from a non-medical background. I am a political economist by education. Somehow, coming from outside the industry has made SGD open to best practices from different industries. Just recently, an expert in Lean Management with experiences in semi-conductors, electronics, and automotive industries sat with the team to map out and improve the laboratory processes. This openness to ideas and continuous improvement is what makes SGD tick.”
He added that having a team with shared values is critical and is SGD’s secret sauce to its success.
A heart for the country
Evidente shared SGD’s steps to making world-class healthcare services accessible to Filipinos. Their reason?
“Some think we are doing this for the usual business goals and ideals. The truth is, we are doing it for none other than the Filipino. We are a Filipino team with a Filipino heart. One day we would like to see ordinary Filipinos, from all walks of life, with access to world-class and affordable healthcare. That’s what we want,” he said.
Visit Singapore Diagnostics' official website and follow them on Facebook to know more.