Earlier this year, AMGA hosted its 2019 Annual Confer- ence along the shores of the Potomac River in National Harbor, Maryland. With approximately 2,000 physicians and health professionals representing respected medical groups and health systems across the country, attendees
of the events were privy to more than 100 educational sessions
and presentations on popular healthcare topics, including
innovative care models, physician burnout, leadership development, virtual care, and practice management. Among the
most highly rated of these sessions was Dr. Stephen Klasko’s
discussion, “Bless This Mess: A Story of Health Care in America.” Speaking to a crowded room, the president of Thomas
Jefferson University and chief executive officer of Jefferson
Health decidedly reaffirmed why, in 2018, he was ranked No.
2 on Modern Healthcare’s list of Most Influential People in
Healthcare and was the only healthcare representative on
Fast Company ’s 100 Most Creative People in Business.
Combining pop culture-based humor with deft insight,
Klasko immediately got to the crux of his talk: “What I want to
talk about is the future.” Of course, to talk about the future,
Klasko first had to take an ironic look at the past.
“The first time that I ever had a chance to talk in the
Back to the
Washington area was in 1979,” he explained. “I was a senior
medical student at Hahnemann University. I was the vice
president of my class, and the American Medical Student
Association had asked students to give a talk on what they
were concerned about or what they thought was important
about the future of medicine. What I talked about as a
student was, ‘God, it seems that we ought to be able to get
physicians to be more optimistic about the future. It seems
like there was a lot of health inequities that nobody’s talking
about. And oh, by the way, my bank just got an ATM. Why can’t
health care do cool things like that?’
“So, here we are today in 2019 and, as the president of a
two-campus university and the CEO of a 14-hospital system,
if I was just talking in that same frame, I’d say, ‘Boy, wouldn’t
it be nice if we could get physicians to embrace change and
be more optimistic about the future? Why can’t we do any-
thing to reduce health inequities? And how come I can be in
my pajamas doing all my holiday shopping while watching
Game of Thrones, but if I have a stomach ache, I still have to
listen to 11 options to get an appointment next Wednesday?’
Really, not much has changed.”
In response to this stagnant homeostasis, Klasko imagined
a world 10 years from now. While Kim Kardashian may be
president and the Rolling Stones still performing as part of
their “Walking Dead Tour,” health care has somehow man-
aged to finally break the cost, access, quality, and patient
experience curve through disruptive events and creative
partnerships. To reach this potential destination, Klasko says,
those in positions to do so must be willing to do the hard
things when it comes to the delivery of care.
What will the next decades in health care look like?
Featuring Stephen Klasko, M.D., M.B.A.