How Millennial Consumers Will Transform Health Care

Millennial Consumers Will Transform Health Care

Steve Klasko, president of Thomas Jefferson University and CEO of the Jefferson System, is the author of  We Can Fix Healthcare: The Future Is Now, with Gregory P. Shea and Michael Hoad. In the book, the authors propose 12 disruptive transformations to the health care industry.

Klasko stopped by the [email protected] Show on Sirius XM channel 111 with Nishad Rahman, a medical student at Jefferson, to talk about this changing industry.

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An edited transcript of the conversation follows.

[email protected]:  How are the changes in health care changing what students like Nishad are learning in medical school?

Nishad Rahman: There are a lot of different changes just at Jefferson alone. I’ll give you a couple of examples. We have something called the College within the College program. We have three of them so far: one is design, one is population health, the other is research. This is basically a degree within getting the overall medical degree where you specialize. For example, if you’re in design, you’re learning about workspaces and how to better design workflow and improve outcomes through the space that you have.

I’m in the population health track, which basically says we need to make sure that when we’re talking about health we’re seeing it as a larger system in which we can improve health in communities. By improving overall health rather than fixing medical problems in late stages, we can improve the level of health and reduce costs. They don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Stephen Klasko:  We just merged … with Philadelphia University. They’re the number 10 school in design.

I just met with somebody today that’s in the hospitality industry. I said, “What if you actually take over all the non-medical pieces of my hospital and health system?” When you think about that, why hasn’t that happened before? Why should you have lousy food and pay a lot for it? … If you’re in a hospital for a week and you’re getting IV antibiotics, the expertise of the doctors, the caring of the nurses, that’s on me. But everything else is hospitality. Why do we accept that? Well, we shouldn’t.

“If you’re in a hospital for a week and you’re getting IV antibiotics, the expertise of the doctors, the caring of the nurses, that’s on me. But everything else is hospitality…. As a hospital CEO, … I’m going to go and bring in hospitality folks to do it.”

As a hospital CEO, health system CEO, I’m going to go and bring in hospitality folks to do it. I’m going to start a degree in health care hospitality because I think that’s going to be a major new opportunity.

[email protected]: One of the things we’ve talked with Steve about before is the loss of connection with the consumer, with the patient. Nishad, as you’re going through medical school right now, that has to be one of the most important things that you’re dealing with.

Rahman: For sure. And in fact it’s often more important. To [paraphase] a great doctor, [William] Osler, it’s more important to know what type of patient has the disease than what type of disease a patient has. In terms of that in applying that, we have to make sure that we build relationships with our patients instead of just prescribing drugs or telling them, “Get IV this or that.”

We have to make sure that we’re encouraging them, and we’re actually making them active in their own health. We have to make them accountable and responsible and excited about taking control of their own health.

Klasko: Nishad’s going to go through a medical school where telehealth is just part of what we do as opposed to other places, “Oh, this telehealth stuff, that’s really bad. That’s not academic medicine.” He’s going to leave here looking at technologies that are happening in the consumer industry and just assume that that’s what should happen in the health care industry. When he gets to his residency, and it’s not getting done he’s going to say, “Why do you still do things the old way?”

Rahman: Especially as a millennial, it’s absurd that we haven’t been doing it already in many cases. If you ask the students, we’re young enough to realize that everyone else is doing it. It’s not like Skype is new. It’s not like Google Talk is new.

[email protected]: From what I understand about being a resident, you’re there to work and work a lot, and your voice is heard a little bit, but maybe not as much as it probably should be.

Klasko: Yes, so the reason that I wanted to get the book out there … is I really do want to [start] a revolution. I want the young docs to say, “I’m not going to take this anymore,” and I want patients to say, “I’m not going to take this anymore,” because we view Jefferson almost as a learning lab.

Let me give an example. I got to be a little bit of an undercover boss. I ended up in our hospital for a night. I have three children, and they were concerned about me. We have something called virtual rounds where we actually can have two-way electronic communication with our doctor or with a patient when he’s making rounds, with my son in New York, my daughter in Tampa and my other daughter in Buffalo.

“Here’s a fact, not a prediction: 80% of what doctors do will be replaced by an IBM Watson type of thing.”

I’m sitting there with the doctor, and on a big screen, my three children who were worried about me were asking questions. To Nishad’s point, that’s some new software, but you could have done that two years ago with Skype. You could have done that four years ago with Facetime or ten years ago with the phone, but we don’t do it. Part of the reason is because patients allow us to not have joined the consumer revolution.

Rahman: In terms of actually creating transformation, for example, we’re creating transformation at one school and then we’re going off to different residencies, and we’re stuck under a hierarchy where our voices are not being heard. Maybe we won’t be able to be the transformational agents we were trained to be.

At Jefferson, we’ve actually created a completely student run group, Physician Executive Leadership, that’s student-founded, student-led, student-driven. We have our own website. We’re autonomous. We’re connected to Jefferson, but our eventual goal is to go nationwide. The idea is to build the next generation of physician executive leaders. We do that by building the skills that we need.

For example, there are a lot of things we learn in medical school. We learn tons of stuff about microbiology, about physiology, anatomy. We don’t learn much about the influence, about business at all, about health care policy, about the future of health care. Especially as technology advances, many of the things that we have always been accustomed to having to do — like memorize organic chemistry formulas, memorize the Krebs cycle — will be done for us through technology. That’s

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