Dr. Montbriand receives 2010 Distinguished Service Award

January 4th, 2011

Montbriand at forefront of gastroenterology

Reprinted from: Davidson, M. (2010, October 1-14). Montbriand at forefront of gastroenterology.Boulder County Business Report, p. 4b.

The practice of gastroenterology does not look much like it did 20 years ago.

Today, procedures like colonoscopies are performed in outpatient clinics, and doctors can find tumors and signs of internal bleeding by using tiny cameras built into pills that patients swallow.

For patients living in the Boulder Valley, gone are the days when they waited months to see one of the two or three specialists serving the area.

Dr. Joel R. Montbriand has seen the changes and is part of the reason why they came about.

Montbriand is the winner of the Boulder County Business Report's Healthcare Hero Distinguished Service Award for his efforts to deliver cutting-edge treatment to patients while using technology and improved business practices to lower costs.

Montbriand is the founder of Gastroentrology of the Rockies. The practice employs nine doctors, three nurse practitioners and 60 support staff at offices and outpatient treatment centers in Boulder, Longmont, Louisville and Broomfield.

Gastroenterology of the Rockies offers service to patients in a way few doctors would have imagined in 1988, the year Montbriand moved to Boulder after finishing medical school at the University of Minnesota and a fellowship at the University of Michigan.

"Medicine was in a transition. The majority of medical care was done by primary care doctors. Specialty care was kind of spotty. ...There weren't a lot of (gastroenterologists) around," Montbriand said. "We were one of the lead groups that were out there providing 24/7 specialty care."

The biggest change from a patient's point-of-view might be greater access to doctors. Patients with emergencies can see a specialist within 24 hours, and patients with elective procedures can see a doctor within a week.

Along with providing better access, Montbriand and his practice embrace technological changes. Some have revolutionized the way gastroenterologists practice, allowing them to find hard-to-diagnose maladies with non-invasive outpatient tests.

Others, like electronic records systems and encouraging doctors to do more teleconferencing, might never be noticed by patients but lead to better treatment at lower cost.

Montbriand's work has been noted by the medical and business communities.

Montbriand is one of only 26 Colorado physicians who are fellows of the American College of Gastroenterology, and he is on the faculty of the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

In 2006, consulting firm Ernst & Young named Montbriand Rocky Mountain region Entrepreneur of the Year in health care and life sciences.

Other health care providers look to Gastroenterology of the Rockies to learn lessons about how to integrate new technology and best practices.

Montbriand's best advice? Build a flexible organization that is as ready to adopt new business practices as easily as it can integrate new treatments.

"It's putting systems in place to make sure you can respond to the ebb and flow of changes in health care," Montbriand said.

Montbriand is proud that after years of hard work, he has earned recognition as a leader in the medical and business world.

"That's what I aspire to be, (but) that's a title only other people can bestow upon you," he said.

Video courtesy of OnSight Media