What will the gastroenterology industry look like in 10 years?

From robot nurses to a change in how patients are cared for, the gastroenterology industry could look vastly different in 10 years. 

Sheldon Taub, MD, a gastroenterologist at Jupiter (Fla.) Medical Center, connected with Becker's to discuss what the gastroenterology industry will look like 10 years from now.

Editor's note: This response has been lightly edited for clarity and length. 

Question: What will the gastroenterology industry look like 10 years from now?

Dr. Sheldon Taub: I've been doing this for a long time and [gastroenterology] has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. I anticipate further change in the next 10 years, or certainly a lot more. Artificial intelligence — I'm not smart enough to know where it's going to play out, but it's certainly going to have a role in the decision-making. It will have a role with radiology, with pathology and certainly with endoscopy. 

The other thing is that I think we're going to see a change in how patients are taken care of. I think almost every patient will be assigned a team, and that will probably consist of a physician, maybe a nurse practitioner or a physician assistant, a pharmacist, a physical therapist, and probably a psychologist or somebody to kind of bring the whole team together psychologically.

I think we'll see an increase in foreign medical graduates. We're seeing it now and I think it's the government's pushing to make it easier for foreign medical graduates to get into the country, and I think that's gonna be a big part of GI as well. I've seen a change in that in the last 10 to 15 years, and I think it's going to become more prominent as well.

The other thing is telehealth. Telehealth is here to stay and it's going to be routine for general GI groups. I think that telehealth will be [used for] wellness visits, colon screenings, uncomplicated GI questions. Complicated questions will probably still require an office visit.

I think that you're going to see physician groups changing as well, not only in overall [healthcare], but in GI. There will probably still be private, concierge-type practices, but I think the government's going to step in and you probably have some type of government-run practice. Walmart, Amazon and Costco will probably run practices. You'll have bigger and bigger private equity groups coming in, which were involved with the group I was with, and I think that's going to get more and more prominent as well as hospital-run groups. You may even see pharmacies, CVS or Walgreens, have physicians including gastroenterologists in their practice.

Finally, unfortunately, I think I'm going to be working in a procedure room where there will be robots and my nurse won't be a nurse anymore. It'll be a robot. Sad to say it, but I think that's going to be a big part of medicine as well. 

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