Stephen Klasko, MD, has led Philadelphia-based Thomas Jefferson University as president and Jefferson Health as CEO since 2013.
During his tenure, the health system has grown from three to 14 hospitals and increased revenue from $2.2 billion to $5.1 billion annualized. Dr. Klasko joined Becker’s Healthcare Podcast Dec. 15 to outline how the health system innovated during the pandemic and shared his top three pieces of advice for leaders.
Question: What are your 3 best pieces of advice for emerging leaders today?
Dr. Stephen Klasko: First, learn from what other industries have done. To me, so much of this is to think about what will be obvious 10 years from now and do it today. I had the chance to work with Apple when they were moving from a computer company to a digital lifestyle. They talked about the old math and the new math. The old math was computers and operating systems while the new math was a digital lifestyle. Just like in healthcare, we have to recognize what we’ve existed on at Jefferson for 50, 60 years, from in-person tuition and inpatient medicine, is going to go away. The only question is whether or not we can figure out a way to have a stable revenue model while we’re getting this care out to where people are.
The second one from a personal level is if there is anything the pandemic has taught us is the No. 1 goal of a leader in a crisis is to be able to communicate, and communicate in a way where folks look at it personally. I used to be a DJ, so I’ve made music one of the ways we communicate. Every Friday I have a conversation with employees around some of the things happening positively, some of the challenges, and share music they can listen to over the weekends that will hopefully enfold them and have some synergies in what we’re doing at Jefferson. Communication could not be more important all the time as a leader, but it’s especially important when you’re going through a crisis.
Finally, if you’re in a leadership position, always hire five people under you that think they can do a better job than you and three that are right. Don’t be afraid of hiring really, really great people. Maybe they will want your job, but that is going to help you be stronger.