Boosting GI Patient Volume: Keeping Up With Technology, Improving Patient Experience & More

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Two gastroenterologists share how they are working to increase patient volume.

Ask a Gastroenterologist is a weekly series of questions posed to GI physicians around the country on business and clinical issues affecting the field of gastroenterology. We invite all gastroenterologists to submit responses. Next week's question: What are some of the best opportunities for biologics in the field of gastroenterology?

Please submit responses to Carrie Pallardy at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by Wednesday, April 16, at 5 p.m. CST.

Dr. SandhuBimaljit S. Sandhu, MD, Gastroenterologist, Richmond Gastroenterology Associates: As the price of healthcare continues to climb, patients have started to demand more from their providers, including faster, more convenient care. Meeting these expectations can help gastroenterologists stay ahead of the curve and attract more patients. In one example, our team has implemented a new technology that shortens the amount of time we spend diagnosing disease.

The technology, called Cellvizio, is a tiny microscope threaded through a traditional endoscope for cellular analysis of the gastrointestinal tract and lung. Unlike traditional diagnostic methods, Cellvizio enables a gastroenterologist to diagnose disease in real-time right at the patient's bedside. With a microscopic view of the mucosa, the physician is able to detect more malignant strictures during the initial endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatogram, thus reducing repeat procedures.

We are finding that patients are drawn to our practice because we are able to offer instant diagnostic testing results using endoscopic technologies, including Cellvizio. Our team can also use this technology to immediately remove cancerous or precancerous cells in the esophagus, stomach, pancreas or biliary tract so that patients do not need to come back for a separate procedure. It is more convenient for patients and less costly for healthcare providers to have a single examination with Cellvizio than to have multiple biopsies or other repeat procedures to detect disease.

Incorporating new technologies that improve convenience and speed can help healthcare centers attract more patients. The key is to identify technologies that offer a better patient experience while enabling your team to work more efficiently with better results.   

Patrick TakahashiPatrick Takahashi, MD, CMIO and Chief of Gastroenterology Section of St. Vincent Medical Center, Los Angeles: Boosting GI volumes can be undertaken by utilizing a multi-pronged approach. Encouraging the appropriate use of screening and surveillance tests such as colonoscopy to primary care physicians and patients is always the sine qua non of any gastroenterology practice.  Maintaining high quality care in all phases of the patient experience, pre-,intra- and post procedure will go a long way towards your bottom line. Patients are much savvier about their experiences and are apt to spread the good word about your practice via digital social networking if you allow them the chance.

Continuing to contract with the right payers and IPAs can also assist with maintaining a steady patient flow to the office, endoscopy center and hospital. Analyzing your workflows on a daily basis and considering the addition of a physician assistant to help manage day-to-day events can free up valuable time that can be utilized to see additional patients.

More Articles on Gastroenterology:
Reducing the Risk: Endoscope Reprocessing in Ambulatory Surgery Centers
The Best Opportunities for Quality Improvement Projects in Gastroenterology
Defining Leadership in the GI Field: 2 Gastroenterologists Discuss Their Strategies

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