'Human-centered, team-based and data-informed': Gastroenterology in 2031

Nate Merriman, MD, is the medical director for gastrointestinal and digestive health at Intermountain Healthcare in Murray, Utah. He joined Becker's to discuss what he thinks the industry will look like in 10 years. 

Editor's note: These answers were edited lightly for clarity and brevity. 

Question: What will gastroenterology look like in 10 years? 

Dr. Nate Merriman: Gastroenterology 10 years from now will be more human-centered, team-based and data-informed. There will be predictive analytics in place at the population health level and the individual level to help us better predict and prevent disease, in particular, cancer, before it happens. Based on individual-level data using personal genomics in combination with aggregate population-level data and individual patient health monitoring, we will be able to identify early relevant patterns. We will then be able to reach out to patients in a team-based, proactive care format to help support patients with needed testing or procedures, or with specific diet, activity or medication recommendations to help patients and families achieve the health and wellness goals they are striving for

As an example specific to gastrointestinal health, if a significant shift in the gut microbiome is detected that could increase risk of worsening gastrointestinal symptoms or other health conditions related to the composition of the gut microbiome, this shift is detected early with improved gut health baseline monitoring. It also includes specific recommendations about probiotics, diet changes and even more specifically targeted future therapies to help shift the patient’s gut microbiome proactively back to a more healthy, steady state to prevent worsening symptoms, inflammation and other systemic illnesses.

Gastroenterology team members will be connected in care networks with other cross-team members to better coordinate care in a seamless way to optimize cross-team communication to help personalize the patient user experience. This will also simplify and streamline the cross-team clinician experience around each patient. 

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