Intermountain physician weighs in on the future of colon polyp detection

As artificial intelligence becomes more common in gastroenterology, industry leaders are hopeful about its potential for polyp detection during colonoscopies. 

Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Health is using Medtronic's AI-assisted polyp detection device, GI Genius. It is the first health system in Utah to use the technology.

Nathan Merriman, MD, medical director of gastroenterology and digestive health at Intermountain Health recently connected with Becker's to discuss the potential for AI-assisted polyp detection. 

Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Question: How has utilizing AI-assisted polyp detection affected screening?

Dr. Nathan Merriman: We are starting to see an increased awareness of the value potential of AI in colon polyp detection that is spreading across our communities. There have been several patients we have heard who have requested a colonoscopy with the new technology. As our patients and our providers start to hear more about the increase in colon polyps we are seeing with this new technology, I suspect there will be more requests for colonoscopy exams with this new AI teammate in colon polyp detection. 

Q: What do you hope to gain from using this technology?

NM: I hope we continue to find more precancerous colon polyps that we can remove to continue to decrease the likelihood of colon cancer for our patients. The impact measures we will be following are adenoma detection rate and sessile serrated lesion rate since these are the two colon polyp types that are thought to be at risk for progressing to colorectal cancer. I suspect the analytics and accuracy with the endoscopy AI technology will continue to improve over time and the use cases for AI in GI will continue to expand. 

Q: Do you see this technology becoming more commonplace in the next 2 years?

NM: Yes, I see this technology becoming increasingly used more broadly nationally, especially as more competitors enter the market over the next two years. I believe this will result in collaborative competition where there will be a focus on continuous improvement in product updates across companies in this space. I am looking forward to seeing the rapid evolution of AI in GI that will help endoscopists and patients.

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