How private GI practice could change in 10 years

Private practice is changing across specialties, and gastroenterology is no different.

Stephen Amann, MD, a gastroenterologist at Digestive Health Specialists in Tupelo, Miss., connected with Becker's to discuss what private practice may look like 10 years from now.

Note: This response has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Dr. Stephen Amann: The landscape has changed significantly over the past number of years. I believe healthcare and patients need to have private practice GI physicians and advanced practice providers to deliver care. Physician autonomy allows practices to be responsive and resilient to rapid changes occurring in healthcare. 

The current climate of stifling regulations and documentation requirements, generally poor functionality of EMRs, and aggressive policies for precertification by insurance companies will continue to erode physicians' abilities to provide healthcare. More and more time is spent on these issues and impedes time spent with patients to provide personal interaction and quality care. In addition, physician payment cuts continue with government health programs despite the continued rising cost of delivering care in the practice. This has forced physicians to consolidate and look for partnerships. 

With that said, physician practices are resilient and are focused on patient care in general and continue to work as hard as they can to provide care. I believe consolidation will continue, partnering and funding from private equity will continue as a way to achieve financial support, maintain general autonomy, consolidation of business services, leadership and ability to implement new services into practice. In addition, this will likely speed up implementation of new technology into healthcare because larger groups will demand it and so will patients. Hopefully, some of the artificial intelligence technology will streamline health information service and sharing of data. EHRs should be implored to share information and implement ways to improve data entry and patient care paradigms at a reasonable cost. I believe fewer practices will be owned and run through hospital systems and will be more aligned through service agreements with hospitals, but GI practices will try to remain independent. 

If there is some significant improvement in these issues, small private practices may survive and even prosper. Technology may also allow physicians and practices to deliver more efficient care and likely see more patients in need. Practices will continue to partner with ancillary service providers/companies to help provide patient care and fulfill patient needs.

Private GI practices (I would also include some private equity partnered practices with physician-driven leadership and ownership in this group) drive healthcare on the front lines, and I expect will continue to be a driving force for compassionate and quality care.

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