The big trends this gastroenterologist is watching

Low reimbursements and staff retention are just a few of the trends on gastroenterologists' minds. 

Stephen Amann, MD, gastroenterologist at Digestive Health Specialists in Tupelo, Miss., connected with Becker's to discuss the trends he is keeping an eye on.

Note: This response has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Dr. Stephen Amann: There are a number of things taking up my free time to contemplate, and they are as follows: AI in GI, reimbursement, recruitment and retention of gastroenterologists and extenders, and finally patient care. 

With the advent of AI — broad term — now with a firm hold on transforming how we do things, it will continue to provide opportunities as well as risk. I see AI as enabling us to be more efficient and responsive to patients to enhance their experience but will need physician experience and guidance on utilization. Physicians and patients need to be aware of AI hallucinations and misdirection in its current form. Physicians should make an effort to learn about AI and not be left behind. 

Reimbursement continues to be an issue in our Medicare-dominated system. With inflation, reimbursements for GI physician fees continue to decline our purchasing power and how we can therefore operate our practice. Physicians need to be forward thinking on their approach to new opportunities and also ensure appropriate reimbursement for services that we provide. 

There is currently a GI physician shortage, so for the long term, practices need to develop retention plans for senior physicians and also expand and retain ancillary providers into the practice. Recruitment of new GI doctors will also be critical for patient service and support and will be on the minds of all practices. 

With the aforementioned issues, maintaining the physician-patient interaction is critical to direct compassionate care. Patients are more knowledgeable, savvy and have high expectations for improved patient experience. Navigating these expectations in a revenue-tight environment is a challenge. Also, we need to adopt technology to help us deliver this with better communication, scheduling, access and responsive care, for example. Practices that can adapt to the changing environment will be most successful.

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