Later, following his residency at Harvard in emergency medicine, Myers had a decision to make about his future.
“I was at a point where I needed to focus on academic medicine or do something different,” he said. “I started talking with two friends—who also happen to be two of the smartest guys I’ve ever met—about the idea that in emergency medicine, you see the same people over and over. Often, they are older patients with inadequate healthcare. It isn’t due to failure on the part of the primary care doctor, but rather due to the lack of thoughtful infrastructure to support people.”
Social entrepreneurs at heart, Myers and his partners opened the first Oak Street Health clinic in Chicago in 2013. The purpose of the clinic is to provide primary preventative care for elderly patients who do not have the resources for quality medical care.
Since 2013, 15 clinics have been opened across Chicago, Indianapolis, Rockford and northwest Indiana. They have 600 employees and care for approximately 10,000 patients.
The Oak Street Health philosophy has brought hope to a population in need of better options.
“Our model is different from a lot of places,” he said. “Most physicians are paid on fee-per-service terms, and in that model, there is little to no accountability for how things turn out. We get paid to take good care of people, which to us means keeping them out of the hospital and putting them on a path to meet their healthcare goals. Those savings are what we use to reinvest to improve care for our patients and return to our investors as profit. A virtuous cycle.”
Oak Street Health is not a success only because of their growth. The hospital admission rate in the population they serve has been reduced by approximately 50 percent in Chicago, and they are on track to become the first 5-star-rated independent primary care practice in the Midwest.
“A lot of groups set goals based on volume and money,” said Myers, “but the Oak Street Health measure is ‘how big is the flock we shepherd, and how high quality is our care?’”
Myers was a chemistry major at Davidson, and he says it’s easy to point to his business and medical degrees as the reasons for his success, but when he really drills down, the things that are limiting to others are things he learned from his liberal arts education.
“The natural mistake is to give credit to the graduate schools,” he said. “In reality, the greatest educational influences on my life were the discussions I had at Davidson. I didn’t do that anywhere else, and it taught me how to learn, listen and communicate. Every day, I rely on my abilities to “wing it,” coach others, write smart emails and run meetings. It’s really nice to be reminded of what Davidson did for me.”
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