The Key That May Finally Unlock the Door to Health Care Transformation

July 25, 2021

View from the C-Suite: Stephen K. Klasko, MD, MBA, President, Thomas Jefferson University and CEO, Jefferson Health

// By Jane Weber Brubaker //

jane weber brubakerThere are two words Steve Klasko uses a lot: “What if…?” Like other visionary health system leaders, he’s scaling up to meet the reality of health care today, while at the same time “unscaling” it to transform it for tomorrow.

Things are changing when the CEO of a major health system comprising 14 hospitals — soon to be 18 — tosses around phrases like “health care at any address” and says things like, “We want to be the partner for those people who want to thrive without health care getting in the way.”

Steve Klasko, MD, MBA, CEO of Jefferson Health and president of Thomas Jefferson University

Steve Klasko, MD, MBA, CEO of Jefferson Health and president of Thomas Jefferson University

The definition of an iconoclast is “a person who attacks cherished beliefs and institutions.” So in the truest sense, Steve Klasko, MD, MBA, CEO of Jefferson Health and president of Thomas Jefferson University, is not an iconoclast, because no one cherishes the current health care system. What he is interested in is breaking down the barriers to innovation that have held the industry back, to the detriment of patients.

We listened in on a lively conversation held during Becker’s Healthcare 11th Annual Meeting Virtual Experience in May between Klasko and conference co-chair Rhoda Weiss, Ph.D., president of Rhoda Weiss Consulting Group and a member of the Strategic Health Care Marketing editorial advisory board. The two covered a range of topics, from telehealth to social disparities to Jefferson Health’s latest acquisition. The common theme across all was technology-enabled innovation that improves patients’ lives.

Klasko has partnered with successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs — including Hemant Taneja, initial investor in companies like Livongo and Airbnb and author of Unscaled — to reconceive health care.

Klasko muses about breeding the “old math” of traditional academics, inpatient revenue, and in-person tuition with the “new math” of innovation and strategic partnerships. Speaking of Taneja and how his way of looking at the world could inspire a new way of thinking about health care delivery, Klasko wonders aloud, metaphorically, “What if you [new math] and I [old math] got married and had a kid? What would that kid [health care transformation] look like?”

As he sees it, bringing the right partners together may be the key.

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