Five Questions With: Eric Newton

Eric Newton is the new president of University Gastroenterology LLC. Newton, who has been with the group for more than 13 years, was named president in January. He is also a clinical assistant professor of medicine at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School. He discusses his experience with University Gastroenterology, his priorities as president and the group’s growth in recent years.

PBN: You’ve been with University Gastroenterology for over a decade. How has the practice changed in your time there?

NEWTON: While much has stayed the same, there are many things that have changed. Just as the clinical practice of gastroenterology is always evolving, so too is the practice.

We have gotten bigger through merging and hiring new physicians. We are learning about the benefits of working with advanced practice providers and have hired many spectacular nurse practitioners and physician assistants to help us keep up with the demand for GI services. We have cultivated strong partnerships with pathologists and anesthesia providers to deliver a more comprehensive, integrated patient experience for endoscopic procedures. UGI has developed and will continue to refine our centers of excellence, such as our Liver Center and Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center. Lastly, we are just beginning to expand our Infusion Center and Research Division.

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PBN: As the new president, what are some of your first priorities?

NEWTON: The collective foremost goal at University Gastroenterology is providing the highest-quality patient care. We strive to provide an outstanding patient experience. We understand that going to the doctor is often anxiety-provoking and having a procedure like a colonoscopy is not how one prefers to spend a few hours of the day. However, we take pride in providing comprehensive gastrointestinal care in a patient-friendly setting.

A close second is ensuring we provide good service to the primary care providers in the southeast New England region. They have incredibly difficult jobs with numerous challenges. We aim to make it easier for them by caring for their patients’ GI needs in a timely and collaborative fashion.

PBN: University Gastroenterology has recently expanded the infusion center at its West River location in Providence. Are there any other plans for growth or expansion on the horizon?

NEWTON: The short answer is yes. As an independent GI group, we are constantly under pressure from the larger health care systems, insurance companies and governmental regulations. We cannot survive in this current health care climate without trying to grow and expand. There are many ways we can accomplish this, and we are exploring these options. Within UGI, we are excited to grow our clinical research activities, as well as our centers of excellence.

PBN: What is the key to expanding in the Rhode Island market?

NEWTON: From my standpoint, the key is partnering with like-minded professionals who also prioritize providing high-quality, low-cost care. Little Rhody is unique with how small it is, and the business and medical community is even smaller. Successful expansion will involve relying on relationships that we have cultivated over the years to reach communities we haven’t fully yet.

PBN: Are there any new technologies you are hoping to bring to the practice?

NEWTON: We are excited to work with local, national and international companies to incorporate the newest technologies into our practices and endoscopy centers.

One new, exciting frontier is the use of artificial intelligence in medicine. We are partnering with a company that utilizes AI to aid us with our endoscopic management of patients, currently starting with inflammatory bowel disease but eventually with prevention of colon cancer. Truly, we are interested in any technology that improves our ability to prevent and cure many of the disease states we deal with day in and day out.

Claudia Chiappa is a PBN staff writer. You may contact her at Chiappa@PBN.com.