The key applications for AI in gastroenterology: Dr. Sushovan Guha weighs in

Sushovan Guha, MD, PhD, is a gastroenterologist and physician executive director at Banner Digestive Diseases Institute in Phoenix. He shared his thoughts on the uses of artificial intelligence in gastroenterology with Becker's ASC Review.

Question: How did you get involved with AI in the gastroenterology field?

Dr. Sushovan Guha: This started three years back, when I was part of the Texas Medicaid transformation in the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment program, which incentivizes hospital providers to meet certain quality metrics.

Once you do the colonoscopy and biopsy, you need to get the pathology. We often have to use our medical students. I used to pay them $8 an hour to calculate it. There will be some human errors, involved with that, so you have to really check.

I decided to use artificial intelligence to mitigate the risk of human error. I worked with one of my trainees, who was finishing up his master's in informatics. His program matched and transmitted the data within minutes, resulting in a high accuracy rate of 99 percent. So we were very encouraged. That started my interest in the field.

When I moved to Banner in January 2018, I thought that I could develop the program a little more. We incorporated a few more quality metrics, including cecal intubation and withdrawal time. Using those, we started working and finding other algorithms. We are in the process of submitting our discovery to the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Phoenix.

On the other side, because we thought there's a lot of opportunities using this technology, we applied and got a grant from Banner to develop a program called CORA, which stands for clinical outcomes and research analytics.

Q: What are the potential benefits AI can have for physicians and patients?

SG: We are collecting and analyzing a lot of data. It has to be HIPAA-protected, and we need to maintain that with an astringent passion. We also need to have some ethical guidelines on using the standard technologies, especially the liability issues. From the patient perspective, these are very important.

All the data is coming from the patients. We are analyzing it and feeding into the computer so that it can make our jobs easier. I'm hoping that will enable physicians to spend more time with patients. If a lot of repetitive tasks are performed by computers, then physicians should be able to spend more time talking to patients, answering questions and explaining some of these exciting technologies and benefits. That's our goal for this field.

Q: Are there any risks related to using AI for gastroenterology procedures?

SG: There are few issues that we need to still address because this area is progressing pretty quickly. We need to establish standards in the field, including ethical guidelines, intellectual property rules and legal aspects. Even with the technology, some mistakes will happen.

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