Gastroenterology is one of the many physician specialties experiencing more consolidation in the last decade.
Brentwood, Tenn.-based One GI founder and Chairman Michael Dragutsky, MD spoke with Becker's about the importance of physicians maintaining clinical independence as smaller practices continue to flock toward consolidation.
Editor's note: This question-and-answer was edited lightly for clarity and brevity.
Question: Why is it so important for gastroenterologists to maintain independence?
Dr. Michael Dragutsky: Physicians are pretty independent people. They're used to taking care of their patients, but they're also used to running businesses, especially small businesses — the average group is a small-sized group. So just like a mom-and-pop shop in any business, they're used to having complete control.
So when consolidation takes place, there is always going to be the fear of a little loss of control of your own destiny. I think that's really the fear of physicians consolidating with other physicians, whether it's gastroenterology or other specialties. That's a real fear.
But to me, you have to set your vision on what you think is needed in the future. My feeling is that a small independent gastroenterology group just cannot compete and will not be able to survive by themselves without partners, without banding together in a guild, unless you are going to be in a rural community — that sort of sheltered market. Basically, any gastroenterologist who practices in an urban or suburban area needs consolidation to maintain their independence. And if you do it right, you can mitigate loss of control issues or loss of control fears and concerns.