Let's Talk

Disrupting Healthcare with Dr. Stephen Klasko

About Episode 41

Let’s Navigate...

Dr. Stephen Klasko is a dynamic healthcare visionary who led Jefferson Health in Philadelphia as its President and CEO during much of the COVID-19 pandemic and currently serves as Executive in Residence for the venture capital group General Catalyst (GC). 

GC made news when they announced their intention to create the Health Assurance Transformation Corporation, through which they plan to buy an as-yet-unnamed healthcare system. The principles of this new company are based on Dr. Klasko’s 2020 book entitled, “UnHealthCare: A Manifesto for Health Assurance,” and he gives us the basics in a wide-ranging conversation. 

Guest: Stephen Klasko, MD, MBA, author, former President and CEO, Jefferson University and Jefferson Health, and Executive in Residence at General Catalyst

Producer, Host: Carol Vassar


Carol Vassar, podcast host/producer:

Welcome to Well Beyond Medicine: The Nemours Children’s Health Podcast. Each week we’ll explore anything and everything related to the 80% of child health impacts that occur outside the doctor’s office. I’m your host, Carol Vassar, and now that you are here, let’s go. (singing).

Dr. Stephen Klasco is a dynamic healthcare visionary. He led Jefferson Health in Philadelphia as its President and CEO during much of the COVID-19 pandemic and currently serves as advisor-in-residence for the venture capital group General Catalyst, which has made early-stage and transformational investments companies such as Warby Parker, Airbnb, Canva, and Stripe. GC made news when they announced their intention to create the Health Assurance Transformation Corporation, through which they plan to buy an as-yet-unnamed healthcare system. 

GC’s concept for rebuilding and revitalizing healthcare is based on the principles laid out in Dr. Klasko’s 2020 book: ‘UnHealthCare: A Manifesto for Health Assurance,” and we spoke with him about disrupting healthcare as we know it. We began our conversation by defining some basic underlying terms, including “health assurance” “unhealthcare” and “healthcare at any address,” Here’s Dr. Stephen Klasko.

Dr. Stephen Klasko, General Catalyst:

If you came to my office in 2021, right before I went over to General Catalyst, I had a sign that said, “I hope when Elon Musk, five years from now, brings people from Mars to Philadelphia and they say, “Where’s Jefferson?” You can’t define that.”

Carol. Here’s a corollary. I worked for Apple in the early 2000s, right when we were going from being a computer company to an “I” company. Right? So, to be at everybody’s home. Apple is a Cupertino. Do you know where your sick iPhones go?

Carol Vassar, podcast host/producer:


Dr. Stephen Klasko, General Catalyst:

They go to Charlotte, North Carolina. So, we don’t say, “Apple is in Charlotte” because that’s where all the sick iPhones go. Every single hospital system … Jefferson, Nemours. We’re no longer Nemours Hospital System or Jefferson Hospital System. We’re Jefferson Health, right?

But we define ourselves by where we fail to keep people healthy. So, the concept of healthcare at any address is getting away from the verticals. “Oh, we’re going to do telehealth.” “We’re going to do hospital at home.” No. It should be Jefferson at any address. And Jefferson should be defined. Nemours should be defined, which I think … By the way, it’s done a really good job, especially since you are geographically disparate, by the care and caring you give.

So that, literally, in the ideal world, somebody would know, “Oh, this must be something to do with Jefferson because …”. Just like the i thing. “Oh, this must be an Apple product because when I opened it, it’s all ready to go.” So, that’s the healthcare at any address.

The unhealthcare piece really started with this. Forty-five years ago, one of my mentors at Wharton wrote a book called Medicine’s Dilemmas: Infinite Needs, Finite Resources. Sound familiar? He talked about the iron triangle of access, quality, and cost. And he said, if you remember your ninth-grade geometry, if you increase access, you would have to increase cost or decrease quality unless you’re willing to disrupt the system, and that’s going to be painful.

He said, “If anybody ever tells you that they’re going to increase access, increase quality, and decrease cost, and it’s not going to be painful, can’t be.” So, if you think our last 16 years of health policy … The ACA. President Obama said, “Good news. We’re going to increase access, increase quality, decrease cost, and it won’t be painful.” That can’t be true. President Trump said, “Mine will be fantastic, terrific, unbelievable, and huge,” and it was none of the four.

So, the fact is we haven’t come to terms with the fact that our healthcare system that literally is led by hospitals taking care of sick people and insurers in a very fragmented way, getting 17 cents on the dollar to be the middleman. Pharma getting the highest price that they can for what they’re doing. Patients that are employed having no say in who their employer actually contracts with and even though their relationship is with their doctor.

So, we recognize that the reason we’ve gone from a $3 trillion inefficient system to a $4 trillion inefficient system and you’re in children’s health. I’m an obstetrician. There are three countries that have had maternal morbidity and mortality get worse in the last 15 years: Bangladesh, Haiti, and the United States. But we spend something like ten times more per obstetric patient.

So, we have to understand that we have a problem that isn’t going to get solved by one of the 800 companies here at Health saying, “Oh, if you buy my company, it’ll help you get to value-based care.” And then Health Assurance. I will take some credit for that because I was getting into some issues with some of the insurance pieces, and chapter five is the end of health insurance as we know it. And I had some people … They hadn’t read the chapter. They just read the title.

I said, “If you actually read the chapter, we talk about how the blues started. 50 cents a month to get people into hospitals.” They were actually started by hospitals as a way to get people into the hospitals. The reason it’s the end of health insurance as we know it … We have to have payer-provider alignment.

I had the honor of being one of the people that got to lead a panel for Nemours Children’s Health. And one of the really interesting issues is why do we have separate children’s insurance CHIP and that kind of thing from adult insurance. An obese child is going to be a drain on the system, most likely when they’re on Medicare. So, starting to think of humans as a continuum and understanding that there needs to be payer-provider alignment and assuring the health of individuals, regardless of their economic status, is what you ought to get paid for.

I’ll leave you with one other quote that I like to use. I think it was Upton Sinclair who said, “It’s hard to get somebody to do something when their salary depends upon them not doing it.” So, everything we talk about with value-based care, health equity, et cetera, is our salary depending on us not really doing it.

Carol Vassar, podcast host/producer:

You’ve laid out a very dire situation. What next?

Dr. Stephen Klasko, General Catalyst:

I think the “what next” is like any other problem. Recognizing that you have a problem. Okay? I had an open heart bypass three-and-a-half weeks ago. I probably have needed it since I had a heart attack in 1999. It took basically an individual [inaudible 00:05:07] Mayo explain to me that you have this 80% thing here and you do 30% spasms. And he said, “You might be an obstetrician, but 80 plus 30 is 110% blocked.”

Carol Vassar, podcast host/producer:

And it doesn’t add up.

Dr. Stephen Klasko, General Catalyst:

And I literally woke up that day and said, “I have to do something.” In 2012, before I got to Jefferson, I gave a talk for the Aspen Institute. The guy before me was Austan Goolsbee, who was President Obama’s chief economic advisor. And I was built as a futurist. I was the second speaker. He was talking about the economy from 2012 on. He said, “The two things you don’t want to be running for the next ten years are academics and healthcare because they are totally unsustainable. They have this great graph of everything else becoming more efficient and cost going down. Healthcare and academics less efficient and costs going way up.”

He said, “It can’t continue.” I was the second speaker. I said, “Well, either Austan Goolsbee isn’t right, or I’m a lousy futurist because I just took a job in Philadelphia in academic healthcare. So, I obviously haven’t predicted the future very well.”

So, we went from bringing a $3 trillion inefficient system to a $4 trillion inefficient system. Then, we have this once-in-a-lifetime event, the pandemic. Okay? And I look at everything as BC, DC, and KAC. Before COVID, During COVID, and Kind of After COVID.

In the Kind of After COVID, we haven’t once taken a step back and said, “Wait.” In Philadelphia, let’s say there were five zip codes without very good internet broadband. So, you think about what happened. Let’s say I’m in North Philadelphia, and I’m an African-American man with chest pain. And normally, I would’ve gone to the hospital, but I’m watching CNN. It’s August of 2020. We’re in the middle of the pandemic. Try not to go to a hospital unless you really have to. I don’t have broadband, so I can’t do Jefferson Connect or Penn Connect or Nemours Connect, or any of those.

My wife goes to me and says, “Honey, they said not to go to the hospital unless you really have to. Why don’t you take an aspirin and go to sleep?” I die. Which happened a lot. Healthcare systems like Jefferson lost $800 million from net. Insurers literally had their best quarters ever because they had actuarialized that all these people would go to the hospital and get care that cost money.

Now, they didn’t do anything wrong. That’s our system. So, if you look at that year, 2020 to 2021 … Literally, the hospital systems in Philadelphia probably lost a combined $2 billion because people didn’t get care. Literally, the payers in Philadelphia, even the Medicaid insurance, had their best quarters by quadruple that they ever had because the basis is on how much money do we get in and what do we actually have to pay out.

So, it’s not their fault. It’s just that we have this incredibly broken, fragmented, expensive, and inequitable system that when you ask about the optimistic part of it is there are ways to solve it.

At Jefferson, right before I left, we took our Accountable Care Organization and partnered with Humana, realizing that they were going to be much better at that than we are. And we have a 50-50 partnership. We acquired Health Partners Plan, which is a Medicaid and Medicare Advantage plan.

Let me give you an example of the difference that makes for children. So, we had had this one child that probably come into our emergency room 10 times, a Medicaid patient with asthma. Okay? So, we sent out our hotspoters to their home. Well, it turns out lots of mold in that home. Now, as a hospital owner, that would say, “Oh, that’s a shame.” And now, owning Health Partners Plan, a Medicaid and Medicare Advantage company, I’m responsible for that patient from the first dollar.

So, I start to hire handymen and handywomen to take care of the mold at the home of our asthma patients that were coming in a lot to the ER. So, there are optimistic ways of handling it. The first chapter of my book, the Feelin’ Alright book of bringing medicine and music together, is “Courage to Change” by Sia. I have this cartoon when I give my talks of board members, which are a big part of the problem in some nonprofit healthcare systems, of “Rather than risk anything new, let’s continue our slow decline to obsolescence.” We are so risk-averse in most systems at a time where we’re just not doing a great job.

Carol Vassar, podcast host/producer:

How can we turn this around? You have a health assurance model that can be deployed. Can it be deployed quickly? Talk about the model.

Dr. Stephen Klasko, General Catalyst:

Yeah. So, what General Catalyst is doing is we’ve taken that book, and we’ve created a health assurance ecosystem. There’s three or four things that are different than most venture capital funds. First of all, we created something called responsible innovation. How do we make sure we’re not just making the wealthy wealthier? So, literally, every founder that we talk to or invest in has to literally come back to us and say, “How are you impacting responsible innovation?” Okay, that’s number one.

Number two. We announced last year at HLTH, a consortium of about 20 health systems that are now part of the health assurance ecosystem that are willing to work with us and work with payers to literally look at how these new technologies, these new areas can start to really make a difference for their patients. And by the way, I’ll give you an example of one of the companies. Equip Health.

It’s a company we’ve invested around eating disorders. Hundreds, thousands of people die with eating disorders. This is a company that has changed that dynamic and saved people’s lives. Oh, and by the way, it’s done very well because it’s partnering with payers because, obviously, people with eating disorders that get hospitalized … That’s a big cost.

I’m an advisor to one of the companies we have out in Brazil called Genial, which is all about autism families. All these things have an impact on cost. So, now, we can partner now with these 20 health systems that are truly health assurance partners and start to help them be ready for a very different model. That’s healthcare at any address.

And then, the third thing of what we just announced yesterday or two days ago at Health is we’re going to acquire a hospital/health system and basically, again, show how responsible innovation … the things that we’re putting together.

The real key to the Health Assurance network is not us telling them what they need. Again, I get back to the 800 exhibits here. “Here’s what you need.” The key is partnering with these folks, asking them what they need to provide better care out to the community. And then, literally, since we have the ability to do that, acquire those resources. And some of this …

And here’s an important piece for anybody that’s listening that’s in the health provider business. Just like we have to have a partnership between payers and providers, we have to have a partnership between founders and providers. I basically made a decision going to HMSS one time. Thirty thousand people, 800 28-year-olds telling me to buy their product. Don’t transform healthcare. Realizing it ain’t going to transform anything but their wallet. And I decided that anything that I did at Jefferson, we were going to be partners and be co-development partners.

I had written an article back in 2009 called “I’m Never Getting Fleeced Again.” In 2007, and I won’t say the name of the company. I was at the University of South Florida. One of the first telehealth companies. And I had been their first advisor, and USF was their first customer. And after about two years, the founder calls me and says, “Steve, I want to take you out to dinner. We could not have done this without you. You were our advisor. We couldn’t have done this without USF. You were really the savior.” I said, “Well, why do you want to take me out to dinner?” “Oh, we just got valued a billion dollars.” I said, “Well, that better be a hell of a dinner.” And he goes, “No, I’m also going to send you and your senior team four fleeces.” And that’s why I wrote the article “I’m Never Getting Fleeced Again.”

And a lot of my relationship with meeting Hemant Taneja, who is the managing partner of General Catalyst … was he had just written a book called Unscaled. They had invested in Airbnb, Warby Parker, and Stripe. And the book was the new 21st-century economy isn’t building bigger, better hotels than the Marriott. It’s connecting people that need space. And when we met serendipitously, he said, “All right. You’re the thesis and antithesis of my book.” I said, “Why?” “Well, you just went from two hospitals to 17 hospitals. That’s the opposite of unscaling, but everything you talk about is healthcare at any address.”

So, over a latte and two days in Palo Alto, we became friends, and we came up with the concept of health assurance and wrote the book in 2020 called UnHealthcare: A Manifesto for Health Assurance, which has now become General Catalyst’s entire platform.

So, I think the optimistic answer to your question is that we achieve the courage to change. We start to see some things that are working in payer-provider alignment. We start to see these 20 health systems that are partnering with GC that are actually making a difference, not just for them but for their community, that can, then be expanded. And then, we just get through some of the absurdities.

When I was a resident, there weren’t that many people that wanted to go into dermatology. When I was a dean at the University of South Florida, we had a thousand people applying for our eight dermatology slots. It’s not like everybody discovered the skin. It’s that if you get out of Florida with a dermatology residency and starting with the [inaudible 00:14:27] fellowship, you’re going to make a million dollars, and you’re not going to be on call like people like I am an OBGYN, or a neonatologist.

So, people really, really want that. By the way, we’re telling all our family physicians to be the quarterback for these Accountable Care Organizations. And as one of them told me, “You pay me like the kicker.” We have orthopedic surgeons in this country that are making $2 or $3 million that won’t take Medicaid. But they take Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement.

There’s no country in the world and probably no other planet that wouldn’t go to them and say, “Look, here’s the new deal. If you want to get any money from the government …” because we’re the largest payer … “you have to take all our things.” Right? I mean, it’s not hard. That’s what the NHS does. That’s what Germany does. You don’t have to participate in the NHS, but then you’re not getting the good stuff of the NHS. So, there are things that we can do. I mean, if I have eight basal cells taken out of my scalp, somebody’s going to pay that person $10,000.

But if, God forbid, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and talking to a neurologist for an hour-and-a-half, they’re going to pay that person $300. We could change those things. We did that with cataracts, right? There was a time when cataract surgery was $5,000 or $6,000 because it took a while. We then realized there were people doing 40 a day in outpatient centers because it only took 20 minutes.

CMS literally cut the reimbursement by 70%. Everybody said, “Oh, nobody’s going to go into ophthalmology.” Miraculously, it’s still a very competitive specialty. So, yes. I think we could have a very optimistic future. The question is when we realize, like I realized, “Hey, this isn’t funny anymore. I need a bypass.” When do we realize the American healthcare system needs a bypass?

Carol Vassar, podcast host/producer:

I want to ask you this. You have brought a very needed startup mentality to healthcare, which is traditionally a very conservative, very conservative space. How can we get the C-Suite to take risks when risks are required in the startup world?

Dr. Stephen Klasko, General Catalyst:

Well, it’s a great question. And if I haven’t gotten myself in trouble yet, this will definitely do it. But I think we hired the wrong CEOs. And we hire CEOs that have grown up from a broken … I mean, I got my MBA at Wharton after I’d been practicing for about 15 years. And I specifically said, “I don’t want to take any healthcare courses.” They said, “Well, you’re a healthcare guy.” “I don’t want to learn from the people that have messed up the system. I want to learn how other industries have done it.”

So, here’s the question for you. Do you need to be in healthcare to be a health system CEO? I’m not sure you do. You need to be a great leader of people. I have 40,000 people that work for me. One of my Wharton professors used to say, “You should always have five people under you that think they can do a better job than you and three that are right.”

So, let’s take the Jefferson piece. Jefferson had three leaders. It was the president of Thomas Jefferson University, a very conservative university. CEO of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, very conservative hospital. And CEO of Jefferson Health System, which was emerged thing with Main Line Health in Jefferson.

They had three different people: a president, a CEO, CEO. And they spent most of their time fighting each other. I came in as the first single campus leader. I was a very unlikely choice. Exactly, to your point, Carol, my first meeting with the faculty … And this was before we got $110 million from Sidney Kimmel or $80 million from Bernie Marcus. We had not gotten a lot of investment. “Tell me something exciting that’s going to get somebody to really want to invest in Jefferson.” One of the faculty raised their hands. “Well, we’re number two to Penn, but we’re better than Temple and Drexel.” I said, “Well, A, that’s the opposite of exciting. B, I have no idea if any of that’s true.”

And then, somebody else raised his hand. “But if you give us more money for NIH funding and a proton, so we can compete with Penn, we can get closer to Penn in U.S. News and World Report [inaudible 00:18:23]. And I know this isn’t a video podcast, but I remember saying, “Look, as your president … If that’s why you brought me in here, to get closer to Penn by those parameters … It’d be like if height and hair were the two most important things.” I’m a really good-looking guy for those of you who can’t see me, but I’m 5’7″, and I’m bald. Right?

So, that sent a message. And that’s what I said. That day, I said, “What if it was different? What if we were a 197-year-old academic medical center thinking like a startup company?” And that became our moniker. And I said, “Look, I want to get to the point if Francis Collins or Tony Fauci comes to Philadelphia, they’ll probably go to Penn. But if Hemant Taneja or Marc Andreessen comes to Philadelphia, I want them to come to Jefferson.”

And we invested $35 million in telehealth in 2013, which turned out to be a pretty smart thing. And by the way, some people left. There’s two other things that had to happen. We had to change some of the payment models, and we had to start what we call JOLT: Jefferson’s Onboarding and Leadership Transformation because you can’t do this and not have people behind you. Right? And we found that 20% of [inaudible 00:19:28] is true. At Nemours, this is true. Jefferson, it’s true. At most health systems … 20% of the docs get it. They like everything you’re doing. 15% of the docs will never get it, and then there’s the 65% in the middle.

What we found as leaders, we often spend 40% of the time with the docs that get it because we like them, they like us, we feel good. 45% of the time, with docs that’ll never get it because they’re allowed, and we can cure anybody, and the least amount of time with people in the middle.

So, what we did is … We said, “We’re going to create this huge leadership institute and change the culture.” Less time with the people that get it. They’ll teach the teachers. They’ll become the mentors. We’re going to ignore the folks that’ll never get it. Carol, we call that administrative hospice. We just wanted them to literally be comfortable and hopefully go off to a … We didn’t want anything bad to happen, but go off to Penn or another competitor. And we concentrate on the 65%. We actually wrote this up for Sloan Business Review.

Within eight years, we had a very different thing. We had 55% of the docs that buy survey. Got it. 35% in the middle, and 10% or whatever that didn’t get it. So, those are the things you have to do. You have to change the culture. And then, you brought up the whole legal thing and the fact that it takes forever to get something. I got asked by somebody, “Jefferson used to be a very conservative place. Did you have to hire all new lawyers?” And I said, “No. I used the same lawyers; I just asked a different question.” If you ask hospital lawyers of any place, “Can I do this?” The least risky thing is to say no. I changed the whole thing. I said, “Assuming you think I’m crazy, I’m going to do this. Tell me how I do this and keep us out of trouble.”

90% of the time, I get a two-page letter. “We’d really rather you not do this, but if you’re going to do it because we know you’re going to do what you’re going to do. Here’s how to do it.” 10% of the time, they say, “Can’t think of any way that that wouldn’t get you or us in trouble.” Those were the 10% I didn’t do as opposed to the 90%, whereas it would’ve been almost reversed and was almost reversed before.

So, I think it’s not that I’m the right … I’m not looking to be … to get another health system CEO job, but the whole issue of taking somebody that grew up operationally by checking daily censuses or grew up academically because they wrote a lot of papers and thinking in the toughest time ever to run a thing of 35,000 people in a very tough time and do things like health equity and creativity … There’s zero chance that that’s going to be the right person.

So, what I did was I hired a provost that was a much better academic than I am to run our two university systems because we merged a design university and a health science university. I hired an individual to be president of Jefferson Health. That was a much better hospital CEO than I was. And then, we had our four pillar model: academic, clinical, innovation, and philanthropy. And they were all equal, which is the other thing that often doesn’t happen.

When I go to websites and say, “What are you about?” “We’re about innovation. We’re about diversity. We’re about health equity.” “Oh, that’s interesting. Okay. So, does the head of innovation report to you?” “Oh, no. He reports to somebody who reports to somebody who reports to senior vice president.” “Does the head of equity report to you?” “No. It reports to somebody …”. What we did is the six people that reported to me were those four people and the head of equity and the head of innovation.

So, it starts to change the culture when you do that and start to change some of the payment models. I had 25% of my personal incentive be reducing five health inequities in Philadelphia. None of which I had any control over, but it forced me to get out of a thing. We changed our mission. Every academic medical center in Philadelphia had the same mission: to be the premier academic medical center in Philadelphia. Nobody cares about that other than you and your mother. We changed ours to “We improve lives.”

We changed our values to three things: be bold and think different, do the right thing, and put people first. And everybody I talked to said, “What are you doing to do the right thing? What are you doing to put people first?” And then, they’d stop. I’d say, “What are you doing to be bold and think different?” “Oh, were you serious about that?” So, it starts to create a culture that’s very different.

Carol Vassar, podcast host/producer:

Before you go, because we’re starting to run out of time here. I want to talk about Feelin’ Alright.

Dr. Stephen Klasko, General Catalyst:

Feelin’ Alright.

Carol Vassar, podcast host/producer:

What is this book about? It’s really, for me, as a musician, as a singer, as a former DJ, and you are a DJ. I never made the connection here, but you did. Talk about it.

Dr. Stephen Klasko, General Catalyst:

Yeah. I started my career as a DJ. I got fired-

Carol Vassar, podcast host/producer:

You did?

Dr. Stephen Klasko, General Catalyst:

… and my minor was chemistry. Yeah. And through a weird series of events, I became a doctor. And I still DJ and I DJ a lot, actually, now because it’s interesting for people in Miami to have a 69-year-old DJing electronica and stuff, but … I wanted to connect the two in my sixth book. But I wanted to do it in a real and meaningful way. So, I tried to look at 50 songs that I thought could help define what the new healthcare would be.

And Carol, there’s a real reason it happened. My saving … The most important thing I did during COVID – we had the trifecta of the financial tsunami, COVID, and the George Floyd protests – was I did a playlist every week for my 45,000 employees. And I remember joining the George Floyd protests. We had one song by Curtis Mayfield. It’s called Choice of Colors.

“If you had your choice of colors, which one would you choose, my brothers? If there was no day or night, which would you prefer to be right?” I had probably 250 emails back from folks about different songs that could have been there. But here’s what was key about it. They were talking to me as Stevie K, the DJ. They weren’t afraid to say, “No, this would’ve been a better song.” So, I start to realize that music combines us. You can always remember something that happened based on the music.

So, we don’t have a lot of time, but I’ll just give you three examples of songs. One is Courage to Change for every reason we said. If you’re a board member of a nonprofit hospital, and you don’t want to take risks, get the heck off the board because you’re going to fail. If you’re going through succession planning and you’re looking for the same old CEO, get a different search firm. So, Courage to Change.

The second is just obvious, which is Simon & Garfunkel’s “Keep the Customer Satisfied.” It amazes me that we don’t do any consumer segmentation. I see all these billboards that make my brain want to explode. Pleasantville General Hospital. “We are patient-centered.” Are you patient-centered, for somebody like me with a 69-year-old with an Oura ring and two Apple watches? Or a 29-year-old disconnected person, or a 75-year-old woman with cancer who only goes on Facebook to see her unbelievably cute grandkids?

Amazon has 1,897,000 of us. I’m a tech-savvy senior that likes Star Trek. We don’t do that with patients. And the third one is a Styx song called “Fooling Yourself.” “You’re fooling yourself, and you don’t believe it.” “Oh, the fact that we had a net operating income of $200 million, and now we’re losing 200 million. That’s just a short-term thing. That’s just a post-COVID thing. We’ll be fine doing the same thing.” You’re fooling yourself, and you don’t believe it.

So, those are just three examples of songs. And what we did was we tried to match the songs and the title to new companies and best practices that we’re getting back to that optimistic future. I’ll leave you with two optimistic quotes. Jason Kidd had been a point guard, and he went to the Dallas Mavericks. They were 24 and 52. And his press conference quote was, “I’m going to turn this team around 360 degrees.” We’ve done a lot of turning things around 360 degrees in healthcare. We’ve talked about some of the same things talking about today at Health Equity that we did 10 years ago.

But probably the more optimistic one for a place like Nemours. And the reason I get so excited about being involved with you guys. There was a quote from one of the founders of Google X. “The problem in American healthcare isn’t that you aim too high and fail. It’s that you aim too low and exactly hit the mark.” And what I’ve been so impressed with Nemours during the Larry Moss era is that Larry came in and said, “Look, we’re going to aim high.” His book is all about that. “We’re not going to be afraid to say, “What’s wrong with kids’ health?” And we at Nemours are going to do that, and we’re going to succeed.”

So, that’s the optimistic part. If we get health systems working together with payers, working together with VCs like GC, and say, “We’re not going to lower our expectations. We’re going to really, really take enough risks to have health equity, to have literally efficient, effective health systems, to have Nemours Health or Jefferson Health mean something in healthcare at any address. And we’re going to partner with whoever we want, and we’re going to be successful.” It’s not an either/or. It’s a both/and.

That’s my optimism, and it won’t happen every place, but you’ll see it happen in places like Nemours, in Health Assurance partners, et cetera, and people will be able to emulate that.

 Dr. Stephen Klasko – Stevie K the DJ – is the former president and CEO of Jefferson Health. He currently serves as executive in residence at the venture capital firm General Catalyst.


Well Beyond Medicine

Carol Vassar, podcast host/producer:

We conclude today’s episode with the voices of some of our colleagues and partners in Wilmington, Delaware, answering the question: What does well beyond medicine mean to you? 

 Jasmine Coleman:

Going well beyond medicine for me basically is meeting a need, meeting a broader need, meaning a need in the community. Um, in Delaware Valley, going out and seeing what, what the need is, you know, what certain communities need and meeting that need. So, that’s what well beyond medicine means to me.

Allen Duffy:
Well, it means a lot to me being as though, you know, I’m working with these young people in the city of Wilmington on obesity and, you know, trying to keep them fit with our summer basketball league. So, you know, being healthy without taking medicine. 

Alina Drake:
Well beyond medicine means to me means doing activities outside the walls of Nemours to support our community, supporting not just our patients and families but others around the areas of social determinants of health and any other areas that they may be in need.

Joe Yaskin
Well, it means Nemours is holistic. You take care of more than the child and the situation. Uh, you provide holistic care for the entire family.  Not only the day of the visit but ongoing. It means it’s a lifetime partnership. We live in a better community because of Nemours.

Carol Vassar, podcast host/producer:

The voices of Joe Yaksin, Alina Drake, Allen Duffy, and Jasmine Coleman. Well beyond medicine means something a bit different to everyone. What does it mean to you? Leave us a voice mail with your thoughts on our website: nemourswellbeyond.org. There, you’ll also find a place to leave a review of the podcast and subscribe to it, too. That’s nemourswellbeyond.org.

Thanks to today’s production team: Che Parker, Cheryl Munn, Susan Masucci, and Adonis Vera, our onsite engineer in Las Vegas. I’m Carol Vassar. Join us next time as we talk healthcare innovation with nurse futurist Bonnie Clipper and Nemours Chief Innovation Officer Dr. Eric Jackson. Until then, remember, we can change children’s health for good – well beyond medicine.

Listen on:

Put a face to it.

Meet Today's Guests

Carol Vassar

Carol Vassar is the award-winning host and producer of the Well Beyond Medicine podcast for Nemours Children’s Health. She is a communications and media professional with over three decades of experience in radio/audio production, public relations, communications, social media, and digital marketing. Audio production, writing, and singing are her passions, and podcasting is a natural extension of her experience and enthusiasm for storytelling.

Stephen Klasko, MD, MBA, author, advisor at General Catalyst

Dr. Klasko is an author, an entrepreneur, and a believer in the creative and optimistic transformation of healthcare and higher education. He has been a CEO, a university president, and a dean of two medical colleges. Currently, he is pursuing his passion to bridge academic health centers with the emerging world of digital medicine and innovation. He serves as an Executive in Residence at General Catalyst. In 2022, President Biden appointed him to the National Board of Education Sciences.

Subscribe to the Show