Richard Multack, DO, has an ambitious four-year goal to eliminate significant safety events. As vice president of medical management at Advocate Health Care in Downers Grove, Illinois—the state’s largest health system—the osteopathic ophthalmologist uses collaboration and compassion to lead fellow physicians toward a culture focused on safety.
In this edited interview, Dr. Multack talks about his mission and the difference having DOs in leadership makes.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Here at Advocate, we’ve cut adverse safety events in the hospital by about 50 percent, and we’re only three years into the journey.
My job requires extensive physician interaction, which I love, and I’m focused on physician quality, recruitment, practice development and safety.
How do your interactions with physicians help create a culture of safety?
Because I have an educational background I do my job by teaching. This includes continuing medical education presentations and discussions about diagnostic errors, but it also means making physicians aware of the fact that safety issues are happening.
To err is human. When we see trends, we investigate and address the issue. We also make physicians aware that we have established a just culture that recognizes human beings make mistakes.
Has your osteopathic distinction played a role in your success so far?
It certainly has, because the osteopathic philosophy is so rooted in treating the whole patient. Advocate physicians are national leaders in care and clinical integration. Having DOs in leadership positions brings the osteopathic perspective to the process, allowing for a culture of health care that recognizes more than one philosophy of medicine.
DOs are a collaborative group of people that are bound together by our philosophy. The physicians I work with are intelligent and logical, and they understand the rationale behind what we’re doing because it’s clearly explained.
How has the evolution of the osteopathic profession manifested in your own life?
My family is full of osteopathic physicians. My brother is an ob-gyn. My son is also an ophthalmologist and his wife is a primary care physician. We all went to the Midwestern University/Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine in Downers Grove, Illinois.
Who was the first DO in the family?
I was, and my experience absolutely had an influence on everyone’s decision to follow the DO path. Within the DO profession there is a collective association that we all share. Our communication and collaboration is automatic.
The strongest thing DOs have is our commonality. I can walk into a meeting anywhere, find a DO and it’s like they’re my best friend.