How the gastroenterology market is changing

The gastroenterology market is undergoing several changes.

Three gastroenterology healthcare leaders connected with Becker's to answer, "How is your market changing? What is getting easier, and what is harder about running your business?"

Note: These responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Benjamin Levy III, MD. Gastroenterologist at University of Chicago Medicine: The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently changed the colonoscopy guidelines to begin screening at age 45 due to an increased incidence of colorectal cancer being diagnosed at age 49. The thought was to perform screening colonoscopies on patients at age 45 in order to remove polyps before they have a chance to grow into cancer. Also, colorectal cancer is more easily treated when caught at earlier stages. The market for outpatient colonoscopy procedures at ASCs and in hospitals has skyrocketed because all of a sudden, there are 19 million additional Americans between the ages of 45-49 who need screening colonoscopies. ASCs and gastroenterologists should work to increase colorectal cancer screening rates in local communities to help prevent cancer. If we were able to get everyone between the age of 45-49 screened on-time, we could diagnose early onset colorectal cancers at earlier and more easily treated stages. The American College of Gastroenterology has been working to help raise awareness about the new colorectal cancer screening guidelines through Tune It Up: A Concert To Raise Colorectal Cancer Awareness. Over the past three years, we have seen enthusiasm for colonoscopies among 45-49 year-olds increase, which is awesome. Our gastroenterology public health campaigns are working. It also would be helpful to increase the number of post-graduate fellowship training spots nationally to help keep up with this new demand in gastroenterology.

Dean Lehmkuhler. Administrator of Northside Gastroenterology Endoscopy Center (Indianapolis): Our market is becoming more and more payer- and hospital-dominated and controlled. Both parties seem to operate more in a domineering role versus a collaborative role to best serve the community. Nothing is getting easier. Data management, along with analytical presentation of the favorable data to help the business, is becoming more difficult. Pricing is on the rise for all products and services, resulting in increased challenges to stay in business.

Omar Khokhar, MD. Partner of Illinois GastroHealth (Bloomington, Ill.): Our market is rapidly evolving. The challenge at the moment is that our numerator (patients) is growing, but our denominator (clinicians) is shrinking. So while it's a good situation from an ASC market point of view, we need to improve our workflows to book patients within two to four weeks; anything beyond that, and it's tough to maintain their interest in elective procedures.

Learn more about how different markets are changing here.

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