The benefits, drawbacks of gastroenterologists joining large groups: 1 CEO's perspective

Jerry Tillinger, CEO of U.S. Digestive Health in Exton, Pa., recently spoke with Becker's to discuss what larger organizations have to offer gastroenterologists.

Editor's note: Responses were edited lightly for clarity and brevity.

Question: What will hinder gastroenterologists' autonomy and what will enhance it?

Jerry Tillinger: In my work with the gastroenterology community — and I spend most of my days surrounded by gastroenterologists — they are learning the benefits of being in a larger organization and some of the headaches that come with it, whether that's with or without a private equity partner. By definition, being in a larger group provides you with tremendous resources and capabilities. You're able to bring in more and more resources, you've got capital available, and you've got the ability to negotiate effectively with vendors, payers and health systems. You also now have many more partners all of whom have a voice in the way the business is operated. It's not as much autonomy as you've had as a single practitioner or a group of three, but you have decisions and opportunities that you have in front of you that you never would have had.

So you see an evolution of that autonomy coming forward for these doctors that is different from what it was when they were in a small group of five to 10, which used to be the majority of the GI practices in the country. They're also recognizing that there are ways to keep very local autonomy intact so that on a day-to-day basis you're not having to go back to the mother ship and ask permission to do basic things to run a practice. If properly designed, that should always be the way medical groups are run.

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