Research Facts & Highlights

Key Findings from "The Impact of Improved Colorectal Cancer Screening Rates on Adequacy of Future Supply of Gastroenterologists" (January 7, 2009)

Projected Gastroenterologist (GI) Shortage

  • The United States will face a shortage of approximately 1,050 gastroenterologists (GI) by 2020 based solely on the expected population growth of individuals aged 50 and older.
  • The 1,050 figure is the difference between the projected 2020 baseline demand (12,510) for GIs and the projected 2020 baseline supply (11,460).
  • The GI shortage will be 1,550 if the nation achieves a 10% increase in the colorectal cancer (CRC) screening rate (reaching 71%) for individuals aged 50 and older based on current screening guidelines.
  • The GI shortfall will be 1,280 if the following two scenarios take place: the nation achieves a 10% screening increase and there is a slight modality shift towards computed tomographic colonography (CTC) and other new forms of screening. This is the most likely scenario, the report concludes.
  • The 2008 GI shortfall is estimated to be 250, under the assumption that national supply and demand were roughly in equilibrium in 2006 and based on trends from 2006 to 2008.

Current and Projected Gastroenterologist Supply

  • The current supply of GIs active in patient care is 10,390.
  • The 2020 supply of GIs active in patient care is expected to be 11,460, according to baseline future training projections.

Projected Gastroenterologist Demand by 2020

  • The growth in the population of individuals aged 50 and older will increase demand for GIs by 1,890 to 12,510 by 2020.
  • If the nation achieves a 10% increase in the CRC screening rate by 2020, an additional 477 GIs will be needed to meet the increased demand for colonoscopies.
  • If the nation achieves a 10% increase in the CRC screening rate, the total number of screenings increases an additional 600,000 annually in the near term to 1,500,000 annually by 2020.
  • For each 10% of colonoscopies that might be replaced by the use of CTC, the demand for GIs declines by 290. The decline is modest because positive results from other screening tests still require colonoscopy for confirmation and polyp removal.
  • Increases in GI productivity could allow each GI to care for a larger patient base. If GI productivity increased by 1% annually (a cumulative 12.7% productivity increase by 2020) it will be equivalent to decreasing the demand by approximately 1,450. However, there is little evidence of productivity increases in recent years.