Trend Toward Physician-Owned Endoscopy Centers

Published Date: January 25th, 2012

According to Ernest Ribera, M.D., doctors who come together and open a private endoscopy center in their community have the opportunity to maintain more control over their medical equipment and provide a level of quality management for their patients and staff that may be otherwise unavailable given the depleted state of the economy. Dr. Ribera is one of a group of physicians that shares ownership of the Mid-Peninsula Endoscopy Center in San Mateo, California. Although the population surrounding the endoscopy center is relatively affluent in nature, Dr. Ribera admitted, the endoscopy center has been met with great success in lowering costs for patients who may be ineligible for government assistance but who are still struggling to cover medical costs.

“A lot of physician groups have built their own endoscopy centers, but it’s hard to get doctors to come together under common ownership—it may just be the nature of doctors, [originating] from our med school days,” Dr. Ribera said.

Dr. Ernest Ribera has been a GI doctor for more than 20 years. He taught for nearly 10 years in the Department of Medicine at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) as a Clinical Instructor and at the Medical School of Stanford University as Adjunct Associate Professor. Dr. Ribera retired from a Captain’s position in the United States Navy’s Medical Corps some years ago. He is also former President of the Northern California Society for Clinical Gastroenterology.

With top credentials among gastroenterology professionals, Dr. Ribera is a leader in his community when it comes to providing quality patient care for those who cannot afford it. He sees patients in his own private practice, at Mills-Peninsula Hospital (where he also serves as Chair of the Nominating Committee to the Executive Committee) and as a GI doctor for the Samaritan House Clinic.

“The Samaritan House Clinic is a community entity that provides care and social help for patients—and, quite frankly, illegal immigrants—free of charge,” Dr. Ribera said. “[We tend to] people who fall through the cracks.”

According to Dr. Ribera, costs associated with colonoscopy and other important endoscopy procedures have decreased by approximately 50 percent since the late 1980s. With the added burden of decreased reimbursements and increased costs of medical equipment, facility maintenance and other physician costs, doctors across all fields of medicine are forced to invent ways to become more efficient physicians. The Mid-Peninsula Endoscopy Center is just one model of how honing in on, for example, privately funded grants can help with the procedural cost and reimbursement for poorer, but not necessarily Samaritan, patients.

“[The other physician owners and I] decided when we started that it would be all-inclusive, common and equal,” Dr. Ribera said. “We’re all covering each other.”

Since its foundation in 1995, the Mid-Peninsula Endoscopy Center has been very successful. It has been recognized at the national level by the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.


Written by Administrator 1/25/2012