The future of gastroenterologists' autonomy is bright, US Digestive Health CEO says

Jerry Tillinger, CEO of U.S. Digestive Health in Exton, Pa., spoke with Becker's Aug. 18 to discuss the future of gastroenterologists' autonomy.

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

Question: What does the future look like in terms of gastroenterologists' autonomy?

Jerry Tillinger: The evolution of GI practices is really in a full transition right now. For many many decades there have generally been smaller local practices, and they've been able to succeed in that model very well. But as you've seen consolidation among health systems and among payers, those small practices have found themselves under-resourced to have a strong voice in the overall healthcare community. So they've been coming together in different ways. In some cases they've been able to form larger independent GI groups on their own and there are some really great examples of those out in the market. But for many other practices, they simply haven't been able to provide the capital and infrastructure to do that successfully.

The way of moving through the market now is to build those partnerships with private equity. If properly built, that kind of model can be very successful for the doctors and really extend the world of autonomous practice far into the future. If properly designed, that sort of model should allow the physicians to continue to operate with proper clinical autonomy with reasonable range of control over the matters that really affect them and their patients. [It would also allow them to] not be pressed with the pressures of trying to operate a large business when they don't necessarily have the education and background to run a large business.

While they focus on local patient care and local health, these practices are large businesses as well and that's a different skill set. I think private equity has brought a new level of engagement with professional management teams to the GI community and you're seeing some of that all around the country. I think the future of autonomous practice is much brighter than it was five years ago.

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