Cologuard & non-invasive screenings key to addressing colonoscopy backlog, GI says

Pankaj Vashi, MD, chief of gastroenterology/nutrition department and vice chief of staff at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America Chicago, joined Becker's to discuss his top priorities for the year and his secrets to success. 

Editor's note: This response was edited lightly for brevity and clarity. 

Question: What are your biggest priorities through the end of the year?

Dr. Pankaj Vashi: My priority for the rest of this year is to continue to make people aware of the importance of screening for colon cancer. Due to the pandemic, there has been a significant drop in the number of people getting screening colonoscopies done. The impact of this could be an increase in colon cancer's incidence over the next decade. The earlier age (45) for screening has also increased the need for more providers. Noninvasive screening tests like Cologuard and FIT tests should be considered in average risk patients.

Q: What's your secret to success?

PV: I have been a gastroenterologist for over three decades. There is really no secret for my success. I have done what every physician should do — that is to spend time listening to your patients; be thorough, honest, compassionate; and provide the best care in a timely manner to all your patients. The healthcare system today incentivizes the physician only on volume and relative value units. I personally feel the incentives should also include quality, safety and patient satisfaction. Value-based care is also important to cut down the cost of healthcare in our country.

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