ASGE, Medtronic Partner to Provide AI-Assisted Colonoscopy to Underserved Areas

Megan Brooks

March 02, 2022

Medtronic and the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) are working to provide colorectal cancer (CRC) screening technologies to low-income and underserved communities across the United States, with support from Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Through the Medtronic Health Equity Assistance Program for colon cancer screening, the company will donate 50 GI Genius intelligent endoscopy modules to endoscopy centers across the country.

The Medtronic program will provide selected facilities with GI Genius modules at no cost, so they can be used to assist colonoscopy procedures, a spokesperson for Medtronic told Medscape Medical News.

These procedures include screening, diagnostic, or surveillance colonoscopy and coverage can vary from Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurers.

The use of GI Genius during such procedures does not affect the cost or coverage of the procedure; it simply ensures they receive improved polyp detection compared to non–artificial intelligence (AI)-assisted procedures, the spokesperson explained.

As reported previously by Medscape Medical News, the US Food and Drug Administration authorized GI Genius in April 2021. The system uses AI to improve detection of colorectal polyps or suspected tumors in real time during colonoscopies.

In the pivotal clinical trial, the combination of standard colonoscopy and the GI Genius module identified laboratory-confirmed adenomas or carcinomas in 54.8% patients, compared to 40.4% of patients who underwent colonoscopy alone — an improvement of 14%.

Addressing Gaps in Screening

CRC remains the third most common and third deadliest cancer among adults in the United States. However, when caught early, certain types of CRC have a 5-year survival rate of up to 91%.

Donation of 50 GI Genius systems to endoscopy centers in low-income and underserved areas could potentially benefit more than 350,000 patients over 3 years, Medtronic said in a news release.

“Addressing gaps in colorectal cancer screening is complex. We know that Black adults are more likely to be diagnosed and subsequently die from this disease. There are also disparities in screenings among different groups, including adults in rural communities,” ASGE President Douglas K. Rex, MD, said in the release.

“Colonoscopy is critical in preventing colorectal cancer and as the global leader in gastrointestinal endoscopy, ASGE is working together with Medtronic to ensure that providers receive screening technology and are able to use them in communities where they are most needed,” Rex added.

ASGE is independently leading the application and selection process for the devices. To apply, visit the ASGE program website. Initial recipients will be announced in March 2022 during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. 

AWS is providing the computing credits to fund the program and continues to work with Medtronic on health equity.

“Individual health outcomes should not depend on socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, or neighborhood,” Maggie Carter, global lead for social impact at AWS, said in the release.

“We are pleased to support Medtronic and ASGE as part of AWS’ recently launched health equity program to help these organizations bring effective screening tools to the communities that need them most,” said Carter.

“The crisis of health inequities cannot be solved without expanding access to healthcare technologies that put people first,” added Geoff Martha, Medtronic chairman and chief executive officer.

“We must begin with local efforts that consider the needs of the community. This program is an important step towards ensuring that our powerful technologies help reduce disparities, improve care, and enhance patient outcomes,” Martha said.

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