Episode #68 – Reimagining Healthcare with Dr. Stephen Klasko, CEO of Jefferson Health

Colleagues & Friends,

This is the final episode of this exciting Spring 2019 podcast season.  I can’t imagine a more engaging interview to conclude with – one that truly exemplifies the purpose of ‘Creating a New Healthcare’.

Our guest this week, Dr. Stephen Klasko, was recently ranked #6 in Modern Healthcare’s Top 50 ‘Most Influential Clinical Executives’. Last year, in 2018, he was ranked #2 in Modern Healthcare’s Top ‘100 Most Influential People in Healthcare’.  In 2018 he was also recognized as #21 in Fast Company’s ‘100 Most Creative People in Business’, as well as being awarded Philadelphia Entrepreneur of the Year.  Dr. Klasko, an obstetrician who has been the dean of two medical schools, is the President & CEO of Philadelphia-based Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health. In this role, Dr. Klasko leads one of the nation’s fastest growing academic health institutions. His six year tenure has been based on a vision of re-imagining the future.

This interview was, by far, the most fast-paced I’ve experienced. It was a deluge of highly innovative initiatives and programs. A few of the items you’ll hear discussed include:

  • The consumer segmentation and customization approach that Jefferson Health is taking – moving away from a ‘one-size-fits-all’ model of medical care experience.
  • How Dr. Klasko radically introduced telehealth to Jefferson Health in 2013 – making it mandatory in every clinical division.
  • The innovative way that Jefferson Health is reducing inappropriate ED visits within its own self-insured workforce.
  • The “Healthcare with No Address” approach that is completely reframing where and how people will receive and experience healthcare at Jefferson.
  • The digitally-enabled, consumer-oriented initiatives such as the “match.com” app for young women seeking an obstetrician.
  • The ground-breaking partnerships Jefferson Health has made, including one with the third-leading ‘fashion & design’ university in the country.
  • Some of the entrepreneurial ventures Jefferson Health is engaged in, including a hemp-based wearable that Dr. Klasko believes will usurp Apple Watch’s biometric monitoring.

Dr. Klasko is one of those courageous leaders who understand that we need to quickly catch up with other industries in terms of treating people like valued customers and respected consumers. I say “courageous” because he not only understands it, he demands it. He also understands that we need to customize care, not by disease or payment, but by patient needs and preferred engagement. He and his colleagues are attempting to wrap healthcare around patients rather than forcing patients to wrap themselves around the healthcare system. He is unapologetic in repeatedly pointing out how the current system is grossly inadequate. And rather than demonize new entrants and disruptors, he embraces them – partnering, learning, emulating and synergizing.

From my perspective, Dr. Klasko is nothing less than a healthcare revolutionary. It is a bit ironic that he is the leader of a healthcare system whose namesake was an American revolutionary and one of the founding fathers – President Thomas Jefferson. I have to think that President Jefferson would have greatly appreciated and approved of the legacy that Klasko is creating. This moment in healthcare history is a revolutionary inflection. As Dr. Klasko states, “It’s important for CEO’s and others to recognize that when an industry is going through a once-in-a lifetime change, the absolute biggest risk is doing things the way you did them before.” I can’t think of a better note or more important call to action on which to end this season.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this remarkable Spring 2019 season of ‘Creating a New Healthcare’.  From my perspective it’s been an extraordinary line-up. I would encourage you all to take the next couple of months to catch up on episodes that you might have missed. It’s essentially a Masters Class series in healthcare innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership. We will resume the podcast in early September and have another amazing lineup in store for you!

Until then, Be Well!
Zeev Neuwirth, MD