WATCH NBC Local News Interview: Artificial intelligence improves diagnosis of chronic bowel diseases

June 6, 2022

Watch full TV interview with Dr. Paul Akerman here.

University Gastroenterology is the first in Rhode Island to offer a new artificial intelligence platform to better diagnose people with inflammatory bowel disease.

Those diseases include Crohn's and ulcerative colitis.

Currently, doctors will describe what they see during a colonoscopy/endoscopy procedure.


"The problem with describing it, it can be somewhat inexact," said Dr. Paul Akerman, a specialist at University Gastroenterology. "What I describe as a shell ulcer may to you may be a moderately deep ulcer."

In other words, it's up for interpretation, especially since only a few images are captured during the procedure.

Akerman likens it to people taking pictures on vacation.

"Clearly, it shows parts of what it's like, but it really doesn't capture it," said Akerman.

Now, using the Virgo platform, gastroenterologists will be able to capture the entire procedure, and, in real time, it will be stored to the cloud.

"It's going to be interpreting the images, telling us about what we're seeing," said Akerman.

The more it's used, the better.

"The more it sees, the more it recognizes and, as you teach it to recognize these things, it gets smarter," said Akerman.

This will allow doctors to standardize and characterize what they're seeing more specifically, with backup video for reference.

"Our initial use of this artificial intelligence and cloud storage and video recall will be for clinical studies," said Akerman, who added it will guide patients to the newest, most specific therapies.