AI in gastroenterology: The future or all hype?

Artificial intelligence has a growing presence in gastroenterology — from Medtronic's first AI system for colonoscopies to Iterative Scopes securing $30 million in funding to develop its AI-powered gastroenterology technology.

Many physicians are optimistic about the technology's capacity to identify and characterize colon polyps.

"It is clear, based on the early data, that there is an opportunity for practice improvement and evolution, but the tricky part is the implementation," Samuel Giordano, MD, of Cooper University Health Care in Willingboro, N.J., told Becker's

Within the industry, Dr. Giordano said he has noticed several companies competing to become the "gold standard" in AI technology. 

"This is extremely exciting for both patients and practitioners to have the ability to improve what's considered by some the gold standard procedure in screening and prevention and make it even better," he said. 

But AI technology is controversial, and some physicians worry it might not be as practical as the market indicates. 

"While artificial intelligence has come to our field, how much are we going to rely on this technology, and how do we see it replacing some of the routine procedures we do today," Pankaj Vashi, MD, department head of gastroenterology/nutrition and vice chief of staff at CTCA Chicago, told Becker's

Dr. Vashi added that it will take a few years to determine whether these are practical tools for high volume screening or surveillance procedures. 

And it's not just procedure-related AI technology that physicians see as promising. 

Linda Lee, MD, medical director of endoscopy for Boston-based Brigham and Women's Hospital, foresees AI assisting with "health bots to answer straightforward prep-related and other clinical questions for patients, assisting with intelligent scheduling in clinic and endoscopy by accounting for disease, patient and procedure complexity in scheduling appointments, supply management, and training and assessing competency of fellows and staff."

"It has the potential to change everything about how we practice and care for our patients in clinics as well as endoscopy," she told Becker's


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