If there’s one thing Dr. Tara Troy knows, it’s that few people look forward to a visit to a gastroenterologist, and she’s OK with that. In fact, it informs the philosophy of her practice, Comprehensive Gastrointestinal Health in Northbrook, IL, where patient comfort and efficient delivery of quality care go hand-in-hand.
Dr. Tara Troy’s vision doesn’t end at the exam room, though. For minimally-invasive procedures, such as colonoscopies and endoscopies, she eschews HOPDs and ASCs in favor of her own office-based surgical suite. By administering all aspects of these procedures, Dr. Troy saves her patients time, stress, and money while she is able to collect more revenue and enjoy complete control of her schedule.
Recently, we sat down with Dr. Troy to discuss the realities, considerations, and advantages of bringing procedures in-office.
(Interview edited for style and length)
Q&A with Dr. Tara Troy
The Scope:Can you tell us about the founding of your practice?
Dr. Tara Troy: After completing my fellowship from a large academic center, University of Chicago, I joined a small private practice, which included five doctors in the North Shore. It was a wonderful practice that served a community hospital and I really loved the field. Then the territory around us was being bought up by some of these larger health systems. About 8 years after I started there, we sold our practice to a larger health system and things started to change. It became a lot less community-oriented.
It was kind of midpoint in my career, and I thought, is this the time that I want to make a change? I wanted more control. And younger, savvier patients are looking and asking for something beyond just medication. They wanted to work on nutrition, they wanted to work on the mind-gut connection, and they were looking towards alternative therapies. I wanted to bridge that gap so that I could offer those services, but that had the scientific background to it. The name of the company is Comprehensive Gastrointestinal Health. We have dietitians, counselors, and we care about all those other alternative therapies and what actually has been shown to be beneficial.
The Scope:You mentioned that you were looking for more control in your environment. What specific elements of control were you able to retain?
Dr. Tara Troy: At the larger hospital systems, administrators make changes that really impact not only your day-to-day, but your staff and the patients, regarding scheduling, time blocks for procedures, access to anesthesia providers, etc. The ability for me to control that so that it was best for my ability to practice and provide that best care to the patients was important to me, because colonoscopies don’t have to be the worst thing in the entire world. It can actually be a seamless, smooth, dare I say, pleasant experience if done correctly. That’s what I tried to create. It’s been a huge hit. Patients have commented that their experience feels almost spa-like, and that they feel more individually cared for rather than a “herd of cattle,” or “I was just a number,” that sort of thing.
The Scope:Now that you’re established here, whatmakes you proud of your facility?
Dr. Tara Troy: Oh, I beam when patients compliment my employees by name, and I love that they know those names. I sit in the back office and you can hear up the hallway, and I can hear, in the reception area, laughter. The thing that I’ve communicated with my staff is I don’t care how fast you go; I want you to make sure that the patient feels warm and welcomed and taken care of. That’s been the most important thing. So, when I hear the feedback that that’s how a person felt, it’s a home run win.
The Scope:In this specialty, preventative care is huge, right? Patients need to feel comfortable to come in and be ahead of the game. How do you make sure patients are encouraged to keep up with their procedures and keep up with these preventative tests?
Dr. Tara Troy: Colon cancer is the second most common cause of cancer deaths, and we know that it can be prevented 75-90% by doing these screening procedures. Despite that fact, we know only about 50% of people actually adhere to the recommendations to get screened when they need it. That’s because there’s a lot of fear. They’re fearful of the prep. They’re fearful of the sedation. They’re fearful of the procedure itself. They’re fearful for finding out something. They’re also very intimidated frequently by hospital settings, because we’re asking for 45-year-olds, most who’ve never been in a hospital setting other than perhaps giving birth, to voluntarily put themselves through the preparation and get sedated, have that loss of control, which scares a lot of people.
My mission has been to try and break down any barrier along those fronts. First in terms of the preparation, allowing people, with the latest and greatest science, to eat more food beforehand, to have a variety of options. Some people like pills [for bowel preparation]. Some people like liquid. Some people don’t mind the taste. Some people need it without a flavor, so having that huge variety of options is important.
Second, providing them education and information. It is so important to me that a person knows exactly what they’re getting into because I think that makes them feel so much more comfortable.
The Scope:Can you tell us a little more about your in-office surgical suite and its advantages?
Dr. Tara Troy: In a fairly small footprint, about 4,000 square feet, we’ve got our in-office endoscopy suite immediately adjacent to our consultation rooms, our warm reception area, and our pre-op/post-op area. It’s very condensed, efficient, and spa-like. As far as the hospital, everything is very spread out, inefficient. You need to plan 10 to 15 minutes to get from point A to point B, a lot of time with wasted logistics waiting and just moving around to these different locations. I love the efficiency of [our office].
The Scope:Do you see a parallel between this in-office surgical suite, kind of holistic, model and value-based care?
Dr. Tara Troy: I think it’s the perfect demonstrator of this. I think it began with a movement in the ambulatory surgical centers, the orthopedic suites, pain management control, etc. There were some big centers that I heard at conferences describe how meticulous they are with their quality tracking measures and how important it is for them to have these transparent prices. They’re pulling people from around the United States to come to them because they offer those two things: quality with price transparency that isn’t bargain basement pricing, but it is tangible. People know what to expect, and it is for the greater good because we have a ridiculous quantity of healthcare spending in this country.
I feel like I’m doing something positive for the world in being able to provide this exceptional level of care at a really reasonable price. A large number of people are not insured, so to be able to provide quality colon cancer screening prevention or other gastrointestinal care at an affordable price for those individuals has been a unique pleasure.
To find out more about Dr. Tara Troy’s holistic and comprehensive approach to gastrointestinal health and how her thriving, community-oriented practice is working towards true value-based care, visit her website here.
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