Wichita Falls (Texas) Gastroenterology Associates gastroenterologist and American College of Gastroenterology's Practice Management Committee Chairman Louis Wilson, MD, offered two key thoughts on where independent gastroenterology is headed and what independent GI physicians need to capitalize on to stay successful in 2018.
Note: Responses were lightly edited for style.
1. On the biggest challenge facing the industry: Strategic planning for the group has become increasingly challenging for independent groups. I believe it is becoming increasingly necessary for groups to thoroughly meet the needs of their given patient population. Gaps in service will usually invite competition and create uncertainty for the future.
For [independent GI groups], that means covering "all the bases" including advanced endoscopy, outpatient care and inpatient care. It also means broadly covering the referrals from a variety of networks. While doing that is a constant challenge, doing so will provide security and strategic advantage. The ways to accomplish this will vary from market to market but must result in mutually beneficial relationships with hospitals and primary care physicians.
2. On how gastroenterologists can be successful in 2018: Long-term success of independent gastroenterologist[s] must include the integration of ancillary services, especially an ASC, but also pathology and infusion services. Real estate ownership is also optimal. The days of succeeding in practice by simply providing quality consultations and endoscopy are dissolving. These ancillary services bring the additional revenue needed to recruit and retain excellent physicians as well as the equity necessary to provide a solid financial future for members of the group.