ASGE President's Blog

  • Responding to what patients see in the media

    By Karen L. Woods, MD, FASGE | May 21, 2018
    Every medical specialty has issues that tend to play out in the media or in advertising from time to time. While those of us who are working in the field every day understand the nuances of this information, it may not be easy for patients to sort out what they see in news reports or product ads.
    Recently, ASGE has responded to two such situations.
    First, we’ve seen an aggressive advertising campaign directed to patients promoting Cologuard. Perhaps you’ve seen the TV and print ads as well as digital marketing popping up on targeted people’s social media feeds, etc.  While we have nothing against Cologuard or the cute little “test guy” who lets everyone know how easy it is to be screened from your own bathroom, we do worry that the public will misunderstand the true difference between various tests. The ads state that the product is for people at average risk, but do most people in the target demographic have a good understanding of what that means?
    ASGE_ColorectalScreening_PosterCertainly ASGE has a great deal of good patient information about screening. But in response to this ad campaign, we felt that our members could really use a new visual tool to help explain the recent screening recommendations and rankings to patients as well as to primary care providers who recommend the tests. We developed a new poster [link] that you can pick up at DDW to share within your network, and we also hope you’ll print it or use it as a digital asset for your website or social media. We hope you find it useful, and please let us know what else is needed.
    Our second recent issue arose when the LA Times and Kaiser Health News published a story based on a study by Ofstead et al, which found bacteria remaining on scopes (GI and other) that had been cleaned. This was a small study of a few sites that, according to the report, were not following cleaning protocol.
    It’s important for patients to understand that this should not be taken to mean that such situations are common. Indeed, I believe the vast majority of facilities have raised the bar in the wake of all of the attention devoted in recent years to the importance of vigilance in reprocessing.  At the same time, we want patients to be able to ask how the facility where they’re being tested or treated ensures the cleanliness of its scopes. And we want our members to have the information they need to answer those questions meaningfully and satisfactorily.
    We developed a rapid response to the article. While we do not believe that this study deserves an overabundance of attention, the story serves as a reminder that we can never let down our guard on infection control.  
    At ASGE, we know that part of our job is to represent the perspective of our members around hot topics, and to respond to information (and misinformation) in ways that best help our patients. We will continue to monitor GI issues in the media, and to respond appropriately.
  • National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month (NCRCAM)

    By Karen L. Woods, MD, FASGE | Mar 09, 2018

    This is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month (NCRCAM), and ASGE is an active participant in this campaign to raise awareness about the importance of CRC screening. I know that, as busy physicians and practice managers, you may not make a habit of becoming involved in public awareness campaigns. And that’s OK, because ASGE is making a great splash on behalf of all of our members!
    We have a radio news release about the importance of CRC screening and the latest recommendations. The spot is airing all over the country this month on the following programs: Radio Health Journal, Viewpoints, and La Red (in Spanish).
    ASGE also has an active social media campaign on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, helping providers and patients alike to find our great resources about CRC screening.  We’re only partway through the month, and we’ve already exceeded our social media reach from all of the 2017 campaign.

    • If you would like to participate, there are a few easy things that you can still do to recognize the campaign during March.
    • If you’re on social media, look for American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Check out the #ColonoscopyIsEasier posts, and share the ones that you like best.
    • Put a link from your own practice website to the ASGE patient website:
    • Print out one of the NCRCAM posters that can be downloaded for free:
      “Colorectal cancer is preventable…treatable…beatable!  Free Poster
         “Prep, Scope, Live!” Free Poster

    Also, please check out this terrific TED-Ed animation produced by two of our members at Columbia University Medical Center, and endorsed by ASGE. I hope you’ll find a way to make use of it in presentations to the community at any time of the year.

    ASGE also is a proud member of the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable. To learn more about the Roundtable’s work, visit

    Thank you for all that you do throughout the year to help patients understand the importance of screening!

  • ASGE Committee Service – A Look Behind the Scenes

    By Karen L. Woods, MD, FASGE | Sep 28, 2017

    committee meeting 1It is hard to believe the fall season is upon us and we are already calling for volunteers for 2018 ASGE committee service.  The society is highly dependent on its committees to guide lobbying efforts, education, practice guidelines and other offerings to members and patients, and we hope you will consider offering your time and expertise to ASGE.  

    An email was sent last week by our President-elect, Dr. Steve Edmundowicz, with a link to an online application inviting you to tell us about yourself and which committees you would like to serve. Having spent many hours appointing committee members last year, I want to offer some advice to those who are moved to serve and would like to shed some light on the selection process.  

    ASGE has 20 committees dedicated to education, improving patient care, practice management and reimbursement/lobbying efforts. We are fortunate each year to have more volunteers wanting to be involved in the committee structure than we have positions available; unfortunately, that means that not everyone who applies will be selected.  Nevertheless, persistence often pays off, so if you have applied previously and have not been selected, please reapply.  

    committee meeting 2Most committees meet face to face, once or twice yearly, with conference calls as needed between meetings.  The time commitment outside direct meetings and calls varies by committee, and may include authorship of society documents or educational publications for members and patients.  Committee terms are typically for up to three years, and most committees have approximately 10 to 15 members, with one-third of the members rotating off annually.

    The Annual Scientific Program Committee is an exception. It consists of 15 subgroups [ERCP, EUS, Clinical Practice, Clinical Practice (Quality Measures and Improvement), Lower GI, Upper GI (Small Bowel Imaging), Upper GI (Non-enteroscopy), Esophagus, New Technology, and Bariatrics] of four to six members each that review abstracts for inclusion at DDW. (Explain your expertise in the additional comments section of the application form to allow your placement into the proper subject area.  The chair and sub-chair of each subgroup attend the DDW planning committee. The remainder of the committee’s work is done remotely.   In your final year of service, you will become chair of your subject subgroup.

    Each year, the President-elect is charged with filling the committee openings, and while there is individual latitude, we carefully consider the importance of diversity in the process.  This year, the process is simplified into an online application, and includes an option to declare information about your gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. It is not possible for the President-elect to have personal knowledge of most applicants, so support for your application from a superior or an ASGE member already active in service is extremely helpful for us to understand you and your potential, but is not required to be considered for appointment.   

    While the selection process is not a secret, it is not well understood by the members at large. I hope this helps and allows you to have a better understanding of what committee service entails, and that you will feel more confident about your decision to apply for future service.  Please feel free to contact me or James Janssen, ASGE Governance Manager, if you have further questions about the process or where you might best serve.

    One parting thought:  As important as our work is, for some of you the topmost concern may be the safety of your families and homes. As I noted in my last blog post, the hearts and thoughts of ASGE leadership are with all of our members who are suffering as a result of recent hurricanes, floods, wildfires and earthquakes. As an organization, we have contributed to disaster relief efforts. For those who are back to work after enduring one of these events, we encourage you to check this web page for important and helpful information:  Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria Disaster Relief.