Dallas physician Eric Beck, DO, MPH, got an early start as a medical leader. During his senior year of high school, he was the youngest Ohioan ever to earn paramedic certification. As a college student, Dr. Beck founded a campus emergency medical service; after becoming an osteopathic emergency medicine physician, he went on to serve as medical director of Chicago’s fire department and emergency medical system.
Now Dr. Beck, 35, is president and CEO for Evolution Health, a Dallas-based provider of home and mobile health care. He is also CEO for integrated delivery for Evolution’s parent company, Envision Healthcare, and was recently honored as one of Modern Healthcare’s Up & Comers.
In this edited interview, Dr. Beck explains how cultivating expertise in areas such as health policy and population health can help DOs and osteopathic medical students position themselves to lead.
What’s your approach to leadership?
Appreciating the value each clinician brings is at the core of my leadership philosophy. When health care professionals have the resources they need and a strong culture behind them, patients have a better experience and ultimately receive better, more compassionate care.
How can current and future DOs position themselves as physician leaders?
I recommend seeking out leadership opportunities in areas like health care policy, population health, health disparities and quality measurement.
Aspiring leaders should also understand that health care delivery models are changing, and as physicians, they can be part of the transition. For example, some patients may prefer to access care after hours or through telemedicine. Physicians need to stay up-to-date not only on clinical advances, but also on health policy, data science and new models for payment and reimbursement.
It’s also key to remember the importance of the physician-patient relationship at the heart of medicine. Medicine is returning to some of the basic tenets of the osteopathic philosophy: caring for each patient as an individual and thinking holistically about health. That’s why I think today’s DO students are so well-positioned to succeed.
What are some of the innovative projects you’re overseeing?
Envision Healthcare operates in 48 states, and we have exciting projects going on throughout the country.
In Florida, we recently conducted a study with a subpopulation of frail, medically complex patients who had logged lots of after-hours trips to the emergency department—we’d see someone who had been in the emergency room 85 times in the past year and had only visited their primary care physician once.
That study informed a statewide program we launched; it gives our patients 24-hour access to telemedicine and mobile clinicians who do home visits.
In Texas, we have physician-led teams bringing care to homebound patients, which helps them avoid unnecessary hospitalizations.
And in southern California, we’re providing patients with acute psychiatric issues with 90 days of support through telemedicine and in-person care. For example, if a patient is in crisis and can’t make it in to see their physician, one of our clinicians will travel to meet the patient for a meaningful conversation. The clinician also helps navigate the patient back to a primary care doctor so he or she has more permanent access to care.
We’re using population health to try to better understand our patients’ health care behavior. We’re examining culture, language, race, faith, daily life, diet, exercise, psychological wellness and community connectedness. These elements have always been part of the osteopathic philosophy, and that puts DOs in a great spot to be leaders in population health.