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Why I Joined DUOS: Eric Santa




The DUOS System of Aging focuses on older adults’ aging needs and maximizes their well-being by connecting them with untapped health plan benefits and building high trust relationships. This work is possible thanks to a team of creative, forward-thinking operators, who are passionate about improving the lives of older adults and their caregivers. So, what’s it like to be a leader at DUOS? We caught up with Eric Santa, who leads our growth and strategy work, to get a look behind the scenes. 

Q: How were you introduced to DUOS?

A: I’ve been in the healthcare space for many years in a variety of roles. During my time at UnitedHealth Group, Optum, and Rally Health, I met many of the individuals who are now my colleagues at DUOS, including our co-founder and CEO Karl Ulfers. When I started to think about what my next role would be, I wanted something that would put me closer to helping improve the health and lives of individuals - whether as patients, members or customers. 

So when Karl reached out about joining the team at DUOS, his new start-up in the Medicare Advantage space focused on solving the aging needs of older adults and their caregivers, it seemed like the right combination of business model, innovation, and a measurable impact on people’s well-being.

Q: What has been your personal experience with caregiving for older adults?

A: When I was growing up, I was incredibly fortunate to have my grandparents live next door to me. They were like a second set of parents, and the close proximity meant I could run next door, spend time with them, and come back with a full tin of chocolate chip cookies (which I would eat in about an hour). As I got older, I started to deliver food in the other direction: my grandmother lived into her nineties and required my mother to make her daily meals. I watched as she struggled to continue to live the way she wanted as she aged.

My final memory of her is from my wedding; I can still picture her sitting with my mother on one side and her nurse on the other. I was fortunate to be close to her throughout her aging journey, and I was always touched by how much energy and care my parents and her professional nurse gave to my grandmother. 

Q: What appealed to you most about DUOS?

A: It is so important for me to work alongside like-minded individuals, and the team here at DUOS demonstrates tremendous passion and focus every day. They are motivated by empathy and a personal conviction to help older adults and their caregivers, and there is a clear sense of purpose in our work. Our ability to do well as a business is completely intertwined with our ability to do good for older adults and caregivers.

Q: How is your work at DUOS different from past experiences?

A: Compared to previous roles, I get to work much more directly with our partners and clients. This is due to both the size of our organization (very small) and the intimacy of our client relationships. I feel like a true partner in improving their business and improving the lives of their members.

Q: What has been your favorite moment at DUOS so far?

A: I love when we play audio clips of real member testimonials for our clients. Having worked with and for payers previously, I know how much effort and consideration goes into developing products, benefits, and services. These first-person audio clips really help the client understand that their sponsorship of the DUOS program has a tangible, positive impact on their membership.