This article appears in the June 2022 issue of the
PE GI Journal
The tech trends that will affect GI in 2022
The evolution of technology has brought about numerous improvements in the way physicians care for patients. Artificial intelligence (AI), the cloud, telehealth and various other advancements have become normal in the age of ever-growing technological innovations in the healthcare industry. The COVID-19 pandemic expedited the need for digital systems, including telehealth services. As the country moves forward, several healthcare trends will continue to grow, while new trends will surely make their impact.
Growth in Mobile “On-Demand” Healthcare
According to Statista, 54.4% of all web traffic worldwide came from mobile devices in Q4 of 2021. As part of this trend, many patients were on the hunt for mobile “on-demand” healthcare. Research by marketing agency DMN3 adds that 77% of consumers seeking medical information wanted to book appointments on their phones.
“In addition to the trend of providing advanced mobile healthcare management to patients, the industry is equally focused on apps to assist healthcare providers with most of their important tasks, including information and time management as well as health record maintenance and access,” explains PE GI Solutions Vice President of Information Technology John Westby. “In doing so, these mobile capabilities are significantly increasing access to point-of-care tools, which has been shown to support better clinical decision-making and improved patient outcomes. When polled, a vast majority of providers agree that mobile devices enabled better coordinated care among providers across a health system big or small.”
AI Technology in Face-to-Face Healthcare
To many the thought of AI conjures the idea of fully automated surgeries. However, that scenario is likely many years in the future. In reality, AI is already playing a large role in healthcare and patient care. This may be in the form of online chatbots and precision medicine.
PE GI Solutions’ partners are working to improve patient outcomes using AI technology in their practices and centers. Several partners are trialling the computer-aided polyp detection tool GI Genius, says PE GI Solutions’ Vice President of Clinical Operations Amiee Mingus.
“We are very much interested in technology that improves the outcome for the patient,” Mingus says. “Using systems such as AI polyp detection is a way to increase adenoma detection and, therefore, decrease the number of patients who develop colon cancer. Our ultimate goal is colon cancer prevention, and this is something that will help us to achieve that goal.”
Physicians, especially those in the GI industry, could potentially see a large influx of healthcare related AI devices soon. In February, Iterative Scopes submitted its advanced AI polyp detection software SKOUT to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval.
The growth in AI technology in healthcare continues. Developers will release devices and software throughout the remainder of 2022 and beyond.
Blockchain and EHR
Cloud computing, often referred to as “the cloud,” offered healthcare providers access to immense amounts of storage for digital records and other necessary information. This led to the incorporation of commonly used tools like Google Drive and Dropbox.
However, physicians around the world are beginning to investigate blockchain to replace the cloud as their preferred storage center. In short, blockchain provides a more transparent and more secure location for valuable patient data. The system is much more difficult for cybercriminals to hack. Furthermore, it would allow physicians and patients to see exactly who has accessed specific files. This is because there is a clear transcript of the flow of information and data.
Digital Authority Partners adds that Australia and the United Kingdom have begun experimenting with the service for medical records. However, legislation in the United States has made it difficult to begin testing blockchain for similar purposes domestically.
The Continuation of Telehealth
As COVID-19 continues to wane, the growing debate of the future of telehealth services as a primary means of delivering care are coming into question.
“I think telehealth will be around for the foreseeable future, but I do think Medicare and commercial payers will start to restrict how it can be used,” says PE GI Solutions Vice President of Payor Contracting Sharon Hohlfield.
As Hohlfield explains, payments and reimbursement have become the main topic of discussion surrounding the future of telehealth. Tanya Albert Henry, contributing news writer for the American Medical Association, summarized the issue in two questions:
- How much are payors willing to reimburse for hands-on services?
- How much will the industry adopt value-based payment?
Hohlfield outlined a potential framework for how telehealth may answer these questions and evolve to match the current circumstances of the world. She adds that physicians are more inclined to want to personally meet with patients.
“Perhaps it will be only for follow-ups, and not for initial visits, or if a new concern is being discussed,” Hohlfield writes. “That will restrict the payment structure, as new patient visits are generally longer, so they pay higher rates. It was a savior during COVID, but I do think physicians would rather ‘see’ people whenever possible, so I don’t see them continuing to use it in high volumes.”
The future of these technologies grows and molds to match the needs and desires to today’s physicians. These major changes will not occur in 2022. However, the foundation for implementing these, and other, advancements may be established by the time 2023 begins.
To learn more about how artificial intelligence can enhance GI services, visit pegijournal.com/the-ai-revolution.