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Liver Program, Led by Top Hepatologist, Focuses on ‘Team Approach’

When hepatologist Tse-Ling Fong, M.D., was appointed to lead Hoag’s comprehensive liver program, one of the first things he noticed was Hoag’s culture of collaboration. For a specialist like Fong, collaboration is critical.

“The liver is unique in that liver disease frequently involves or overlaps with other specialties including oncology, cardiology, endocrinology, infectious disease, pulmonary medicine and nephrology,” he said. “This specialty requires the involvement of different experts from different fields, and it is very fair to say that Hoag is the number one hospital in Orange County because we have these highly skilled experts.”

Dr. Fong’s own expertise uniquely positions him to helm a program that requires the involvement of specialists as far ranging as addiction treatment and interventional radiology. Board certified in gastroenterology and transplant hepatology, Fong is one of few hepatologists in Orange County, that brings a wealth of expertise and knowledge to Hoag and its community. 

“Very few hepatologists lead liver programs in Orange County. The fact that Hoag has asked me to run the program represents the commitment of Hoag to support our liver disease patients,” he said.

Fong holds regular case conferences bringing together a multitude of specialists to collaborate on the care of patients who have liver-related cardiac issues, cancer, drug addiction, hepatitis, autoimmune diseases, fatty liver and other liver-related illnesses and injuries.

This team approach allows physicians to address patients’ holistic health issues.

“Patients find their care to be personalized and provided with compassion and coordination,” Dr. Fong said. “The continuity of care they find at Hoag makes a big difference.”

The program’s dedicated nurse navigator helps patients coordinate their appointments with specialists such as world-class liver surgeons, fellowship-trained pathologists, as well as an interventional radiologist and diagnostic radiologist Andrew Keyoung.

Hoag consistently ranks among the top hospitals for gastrointestinal care and was ranked #38 nationally in Gastroenterology and GI Surgery by U.S. News & World Report.

In addition to a best-in-class team, Hoag patients also have the advantage of state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment, including the FibroScan, MR-Elastography and ultrasound shear wave elastography, which is an exciting emerging technology for determining the elasticity of the liver.

Fong said Hoag’s expanded approach to liver care comes at the right time. The pandemic and subsequent shutdowns have led to a rise in obesity and alcohol consumption. Nearly

80% of people who are obese will develop non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, 20% of whom will go on to develop progressive diseases such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. And 75% of adults say they increased their alcohol consumption during the pandemic, leading to a rise in alcoholic liver disease, particularly among young women.

“I’m anticipating an influx of patients, and we will work collaboratively to best support these patients,” Fong said. “That’s the strength of Hoag. We have outstanding physicians and providers who work hand-in-hand for the health of the patient.”

To learn more, call 888-832-0252.