Medtronic, together with its partners, is expanding its Health Equity Assistance Program for colon cancer screening in medically underserved communities across the US.

With support from the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) and Amazon Web Services’s (AWS) Health Equity Initiative, the company is expanding the programme.

Medtronic chairman and chief executive officer Geoff Martha said: “Equity in healthcare begins with ensuring access for all to life-transforming therapies.

“It’s exciting to see how our new collaboration with AWS can help clinicians detect colon cancer early among some of the highest risk individuals in our country.”

As part of the expanded programme, Medtronic is increasing the number of GI Genius units to be distributed from 50 to 133 systems, which are being installed across 62 facilities.

The company initiated the programme in February this year, with Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, as the first facility to receive the donated GI Genius units last month.

Medtronic gastrointestinal business chief medical officer Austin Chiang said: “This initiative is so important because we know that almost half of all cases of post-colonoscopy colon cancer may be attributed to not catching polyps during the index colonoscopy.

“We have seen the impact that AI-assisted colonoscopies can have, and this study unequivocally demonstrates that this technology helps physicians better detect polyps during colonoscopies.

“The impact of missed polyps could ultimately be the difference between life and death when we consider that 90% of patients with colon cancer can beat it when it’s caught early.”

The GI Genius intelligent endoscopy module is an advanced computer-aided solution that helps physicians to detect colorectal polyps in real-time during colonoscopy.

Powered by artificial intelligence (AI), the system automatically detects colorectal polyps in different shapes and sizes, to help diagnose and prevent colorectal cancer.

In April last year, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorised the system.

Grady Memorial Hospital performs more than 7,000 colon cancer screening procedures annually, with the majority of patients being from Black community.

Black adults account for 80% of the speciality’s patient population, and are disproportionately burdened by colon cancer, said the company.

Grady Memorial Hospital gastroenterologist Benjamin D Renelus said: “By utilizing GI Genius, we have the potential to increase our adenoma detection rate and reduce the incidence of colorectal cancer in a high-risk and vulnerable population.

“The hospital’s hope is that the thousands of patients receiving colonoscopy cancer screenings each year at our facility will benefit from Medtronic’s GI Genius intelligent endoscopy module with the potential for earlier detection and better patient outcomes.”