An obstetrician who also has an MBA from Wharton, Stephen Klasko has no trouble thinking about healthcare through a business lens. Since taking over as CEO of Philadelphia’s Jefferson Health system (formerly Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals) in late 2013, he has expanded the network from 3 to 13 hospitals and grown revenues from $1.8 billion to $5.1 billion. At the same time, he has driven changes that use technology and design to help deliver care that is more personal. With AI on the horizon, training humans to be better robots doesn’t make sense, says Klasko.
Today, 80% of Jefferson’s doctors are trained on the network’s telehealth platform, providing 24/7 access for many patient needs. Klasko also initiated virtual rounds, using video-conferencing software that lets family members sit in remotely when the doctor checks in on a patient. A “hotspotting” project sends medical students out to coach patients who overuse the ER self-care skills, helping to reduce unnecessary visits by 70%.
After merging with arts-focused Philadelphia University in 2017, Jefferson's Sidney Kimmel Medical College became the first to offer medical students a certificate in design. Through hackathons and its health design lab, the school has supported student projects on drones, hemp-based materials, and medical wearables. “We’re attracting people from around the country who are interested in an academic medical center thinking like a startup,” says Klasko. “We’re not just making innovation a hobby.”