Miami Today Gastro Health jumps from Miami-Dade to eye national role

With four practice acquisitions this year, and three more planned in the coming months, the Miami based Gastro Health physician network is on track to grow throughout Florida and beyond.

The newest acquisitions are in Wellington, Delray Beach, Coral Springs and Hollywood; within three months, the group plans to add practices in Hialeah, Miami and Fort Myers on Florida’s West Coast.

“In 2017, Gastro Health became South Florida’s largest gastroenterology network with 25 locations and more than 60 physicians,” said Alejandro Fernandez, the network’s CEO, via email “Less than a year ago, this claim could not be made, as the company solely had a presence in Miami-Dade.”

The two-fold growth strategy combines mergers and acquisitions with physician recruitment to South Florida, he said.

Physicians sell their practices to reduce overhead and increase revenues, he explained. “Many private practice doctors, and in our case gastroenterologists, are looking to become part of a larger network, which gives them the opportunity to survive and thrive in an ever changing health care environment.

“By providing physicians the opportunity to be part of a larger network, we are also addressing the physician shortage cited by Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida and the Teaching Hospital Council of Florida,” Mr. Fernandez said.

The report predicted a statewide shortage by 2025 in key specialties like psychiatry, gastroenterology and surgery, he said.

Considering that Florida’s population is both aging and growing, the demand for colonoscopies is expected to rise 10 percentage points, he said. In addition, many baby boomers are encouraged to have liver screenings for hepatitis C, which has become a growing condition among that population.

“This year we went from being the Miami gastroenterology group to the South Florida gastroenterology group. By end of year, we hope to be well on our way to being the Florida group,” Mr. Fernandez said.

“We are looking to move out of Florida, as well, and are in discussions with groups in Texas, Indianapolis, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Our goal is to be the premier national GI group that provides a full continuum of digestive care with adult and pediatric gastroenterologists, colorectal surgeons and imaging and infusion centers.”