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Thinking in Three Dimensions

MBA helped healthcare CMO shift his approach

Eric Eskioglu
Chief Medical and Scientific Officer, Novant Health

Vanderbilt Executive MBA 2022

Not many professionals transition from aerospace to medicine, as Dr. Eric Eskioglu did. But to him, there was a great deal of continuity between the two fields. “As an aerospace engineer,” he says, “I witnessed the airline industry put processes in place where the likelihood of dying on a commercial flight is basically nonexistent. I am convinced that we can get to the point in healthcare where no patients die from hospital-acquired infections and serious safety events.”

That, essentially, is Dr. Eskioglu's mission at Novant Health, where he is leading the effort to build a systemwide safety infrastructure—including an Institute for Safety and Quality—with the support of both processes and technology across the organization’s 15 hospitals.

“I wanted to learn more about business operations, broaden my perspective, and apply that lens to my role in healthcare,” he says. “I felt like I was missing a third dimension of how I thought about healthcare. I had the engineering perspective, along with the healthcare and clinical perspective, but I was missing the business perspective.”

Though he works in North Carolina, Dr. Eskioglu was familiar with Vanderbilt, where he trained two decades earlier as a neurosurgery resident and then served as an assistant professor of neurological surgery. “I knew when I decided to pursue my MBA, there was nowhere else I’d rather study,” he says.

Some of the shift in perspective he was seeking, says Dr. Eskioglu, came from his fellow students with their diverse business backgrounds: “Although I was the oldest in the program and one generation removed from them, they truly accepted me as one of their own. I was humbled by their kindness and their intelligence. My peers made me think about things in many different ways and broadened my horizon.”

Likewise, the faculty not only helped Dr. Eskioglu shift his thinking but also helped him make an impact on his organization. “Because of their leadership,” he says, “I actually created a new division within Novant Health, the EVE (Economic Value Enhancement) Team, with a healthcare economist supported by a team of experts. We are one of the first in the country to have a healthcare economics group, and we did it to increase the value of care for our patients. Because of my MBA, I am much better equipped to think about healthcare in a three-dimensional way.”

Fun Fact: Dr. Eskioglu, his wife, and their three children love to travel, especially to spots that “are off the beaten path."

I am much better equipped to think about healthcare in a three-dimensional way.