Where GI execs are seeing the greatest opportunity

Here are three key areas within gastroenterology where leaders such as U.S. Digestive Health CEO Jerry Tillinger believe opportunity is ripe:

Artificial intelligence: The use of artificial intelligence for polyp detection has become a key component of innovation within gastroenterology. According to a study in the journal Gastroenterology, using artificial intelligence during colonoscopies may help decrease adenoma miss rates.

Medtronic's AI-assisted polyp detection device GI Genius has been at the forefront of the industry's interest in AI. In February, Medtronic formed a partnership with Amazon Web Services to create a health equity assistance program to donate GI Genius endoscopy modules to facilities in low-income and underserved communities to increase access to AI-assisted colorectal cancer screenings. Organizations implementing GI Genius include Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare, Hackensack (N.J.) University Medical Center and Exton, Pa.-based US Digestive Health. Iterative Scopes also has its own AI-assisted polyp detection device, Skout, which recently received FDA 510(k) clearance.

Consolidation: According to a report from Avalere, 108,700 formerly independent physicians are now employed by hospitals, private equity firms, insurers or other corporate entities. Gastroenterology is one of the many healthcare sectors experiencing high rates of consolidation. Four percent of surveyed gastroenterologists intend to join management organizations in 2022, according to a report jointly published by consulting firm Fraser Healthcare and pharma research firm Spherix Global Insights. Some gastroenterology executives view consolidation within the industry as a necessity due to rapid consolidation in other areas of healthcare.

Private equity: The amount of private equity gastrointestinal groups grew to 68 percent last year and is projected to expand throughout 2022, according to the Fraser Healthcare report. With recent private equity megadeals such as GI Alliance's $785 million physician-led buyout, it has become clear that private equity is taking root in gastroenterology. Several private-equity backed MSOs have seen success acquiring practices and growing their networks in 2022 alone, and these trends are expected to continue.

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