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Revolutionizing Gastroenterology: Can AI-Enabled Video Enhance GI Procedures?


When Fang Frank Yu, M.D., Ph.D began working in medicine, he had a choice to make. Would he take a patient-facing role? Or one where he’d run tests and form diagnoses? Thankfully, gastroenterology offered both aspects. The field’s unique blend of patient interactions and diagnostic work appealed to the California, Irvine-based gastroenterologist who did his residency at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center, and received his fellowship at Georgetown University, National Institutes of Health.

It was an ideal fit for his passion for healthcare and for serving patients.

In the ensuing years, tech has come a long way, especially in the medical field. Before the digital era, Dr. Yu relied on Polaroid or Kodak pictures as well as handwritten notes to provide information to his many patients. As you can imagine, this process was both limited and time-consuming. And, of course, in the world of medicine, wasted time can mean serious consequences.

To this point, back when he was still training, Dr. Yu recalls having limited access to filmed procedures. Performed by a top doctor, they’d film one procedure and use it to train doctors for years. But when it comes to something as anatomically complex as the gastrointestinal tract, the more diverse your procedure footage is, the better.

Based on this context, it’s understandable why Dr. Yu was initially hesitant about adopting new technology, fearing potential technical issues during procedures. After all, doctors are caregivers—not technicians. Not to mention, costs for new technology are always high.

However, a breakthrough occurred when Dr. Yu met with my company Virgo at the Digestive Disease Week (DDW) conference in 2019. As Dr. Yu explains, “Marrying emerging AI technologies with video capture/analysis, Virgo offered me a simple and efficient way to record procedures. I have a feeling that in the future, the device’s data will probably be integrated into medical reports.”

Unlike the traditional approach, where videos (if any at all) are recorded but not shared with patients, Dr. Yu decided to watch the ones he took using Virgo with patients during follow-ups. There was one especially important rationale for doing so. A significant challenge to care is the communication barrier between physicians and patients. This is pronounced when complex medical terminologies are involved. Accordingly, it can be hard for patients to grasp the full scope of their medical conditions and treatments.

Virgo seeks to change all that.

As Dr. Yu says, “If a picture is worth 1000 words, a video is worth 10,000. Physicians try their best to explain their findings, but patients don’t always grasp what we’re saying. On the other hand, if I show them a video from Virgo of, let’s say, a gastric ulcer or other condition, they may better appreciate how severe it is. This will motivate them to act. To make healthier decisions.”

Patients, in turn, appreciate this newfound chance to review procedures, enabling them to take a more active role in their own healthcare journey. Also, by visualizing what’s happening internally, they can gain a better understanding of their condition and needed steps, if any, to address it.

In one such case, Dr. Yu’s patient was able to rule out GI issues due to Virgo’s assistance. “An individual came to me with reflux dyspepsia symptoms, returning often to my office for help. Then I showed him the video. He could see for himself there was indeed no evidence of reflux, no severe ulcers. In fact, there was nothing serious. Watching the video was enough to convince him it wasn’t a gastro issue.” According to Dr. Yu, when this same person ended up in the ER with tachycardia, the doctors were quickly able to conclude it was an anxiety attack.

Such newfound clarity fosters trust, improving relationships between Dr. Yu and his patients. But it can also bolster stronger ties between fellow providers, too. With AI-captured videos now at his disposal, Dr. Yu can recommend the right specialists whenever needed. He can also easily get them up to speed should their services (outside of his scope) be required.

Being able to share this information from physician to physician is a crucial feature of Virgo’s mission. Dr. Yu details such a benefit. “Now, if I need to refer a patient to a specialist, I can easily send them the right video clip. This gives everyone involved the info needed for the best possible outcome.”

Employing cutting-edge machine learning, Virgo’s tech also assists providers in novel ways. One incident involving a patient complaint led Dr. Yu to realize the unprecedented legal protection afforded by video recordings.

Here’s what happened.

After a routine procedure, a patient reported abdominal discomfort, filing a complaint with the medical board. Fortunately, Dr. Yu had recorded the full procedure using Virgo, allowing him to provide the most accurate, comprehensive data for the legal proceedings. In fact, the video served as powerful evidence in support of Dr. Yu’s actions, both vindicating his work and shielding him against any false claims or misunderstandings.

Even with so many medical advances, GI issues still plague millions of Americans every day. If anything, GI ailments are actually on the rise. But that just means we have more work to do. As one of our most dedicated partners and practitioners, Dr. Yu is committed to staying at the forefront of tech. This dedication has led him to an innovative solution that’s significantly improved patient communication, experience, and even legal protection.

Thanks to its ease of use, Virgo is excited to partner with many more providers equally passionate about improving health outcomes. As Dr. Yu says, “If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a video is worth 10,000.”

If you would like to learn how you can also introduce innovative AI video solutions to your endoscopy practice, please contact us at

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