6 pivotal growth opportunities for GI 

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Five leaders in gastroenterology spoke with Becker's ASC Review on what they see as the biggest opportunity for growth in ASCs. 

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

Here are six opportunities for GI growth:

1. Interventional endoscopy procedures

Kenneth Wang, MD. Director of Mayo Clinic's Advanced Endoscopy Group and Esophageal Neoplasia Clinic (Rochester, Minn.): The largest opportunities at this time would be in interventional endoscopy and the ability to perform more advanced intraluminal resections for neoplasia and structural reshaping procedures for reflux, bariatrics, bypass procedures and establishing continuity of the GI tract.

2. COVID-19 backlog

Joe Feuerstein, MD. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (Boston): The biggest opportunity for growth at this time is the huge backlog in procedures that was created by COVID-19. Numerous centers have huge backlogs of cancer screening procedures, as well as symptom-based procedures that have been delayed due to COVID-19. Some studies out of Canada and Europe note that it will take years to fully accommodate all the scopes that were delayed secondary to COVID-19. At this time though, this can be seen as an opportunity for growth and expansion for some centers to facilitate more expedited endoscopic procedures. 

3. Consolidation

Michael Dragutsky, MD. Chair of One GI: From a business standpoint, consolidation of practices will allow gastroenterologists to have a stronger voice in the direction of healthcare and enable ancillary growth and economies of scale to all participating practices.

Jim Leavitt, MD. Gastro Health (Miami): I believe for many of the private equity platform groups, the mergers and acquisitions process will continue unabated and there will be more consolidation in general. The stress that many smaller groups experienced with COVID-19 has increased the appeal of joining a larger, more robust, secure organization. So, this will increase growth by size and geography.

With more consolidation, the cost of developing a sophisticated data platform can be amortized over a larger base of physicians making it more affordable. Larger groups will also produce truly big data that can be better mined. We will see growth in predictive analytics and population management, which will lead to growth in alternate payment opportunities. 

4. Patient engagement

Dr. Jim Leavitt: I think the most exciting type of growth will be in areas of patient engagement and data acquisition and analytics. COVID-19 opened the door to televisits, and I think will be the catalyst for more and varied approaches to productive patient engagement strategies that will improve access and outcomes.  

5. Technological advances

Jason Richardson. CEO of Gastroenterology of the Rockies (Boulder, Colo.): The biggest opportunity for growth is leveraging technological advances in artificial intelligence and systems integration to enhance service excellence for our patients, our referral sources and colleagues.   

6. Fatty liver management 

Dr. Michael Dragutsky: From a clinical standpoint, fatty liver management and better understanding of the microbiome and its relationship to GI and non-GI diseases will fall under the purview of gastroenterologists.

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