Beyond patient care: The biggest challenges in GI

Patient care is any physician's primary focus: both challenging and rewarding. But, patient care is hardly the only challenge physicians face today. Two gastroenterologists share their struggles outside of the patient care arena.


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 response           

Next week's question: Is it still possible for smaller GI practices to thrive, or do these practices need to consider merging or turning to hospital employment?
Please submit responses to Carrie Pallardy at by Thursday, October 1, at 5 p.m. CST

Maxwell Chait, MD, FACP, FACG, FASGE, AGAF, ColumbiaDoctors Medical Group (Hartsdale, N.Y.): There are many challenging non-patient care related aspects of being a gastroenterologist that are vital to practice survival. Gastroenterologists were trained in patient care, not the ever-changing landscape of the business of medicine. We must face these challenges to be able to do what we were trained for.

Changes to GI reimbursement and coding are coming. On Oct. 1, all practices will need to transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10. CMS will finalize reduced reimbursement values for GI endoscopy services, including colonoscopy that will be effective Jan. 1, 2016. One must be prepared for these changes to help avoid revenue loses, optimize reimbursement and smoothly transition practice operations to potentially new payment delivery models.

The GI office management staff needs effective and efficient ways to manage the GI unit in this difficult and ever changing health care system to run profitable cost centers and achieve endoscopic efficiency. Physician payment is changing from a fee-for-service system to a system based on value. It will be critical to translate quality concepts into practice by using benchmarking, accountability and assessment and improvement in patient satisfaction. The gastroenterologist will need to implement and sustain a Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement (QAPI) program to demonstrate and maintain quality and patient safety in the endoscopy

Elliot Ellis, MD, Team Lead, EMA Gastroenterology, Modernizing Medicine: Being a physician in a GI practice isn't simply about treating and healing patients. It used to be that excellent technical skills and a caring bedside manner made for a successful career. Not the case these days. Today a successful physician must also be a computer expert, marketer, salesperson, networker, accountant, manager and more. And that doesn't include juggling family and personal life. The key to having it all: Effective systems, talented people and that bedside manner that transcends the exam table.

More articles on gastroenterology:
10 of the biggest GI/endoscopy stories in 2015
4 GI physicians in the news – Sept. 25, 2015
FDA approves new CRC drug

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