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CEO assails nation’s costly, inefficient health care system

Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health CEO and President Dr. Stephen K. Klasko was the keynote speaker at the Maimonides Society's 30th anniversary at the Jewish Community Center of the Lehigh Valley in Allentown. - (Photo / Wendy Solomon)

Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health CEO and President Dr. Stephen K. Klasko says the country’s health care system is facing some of the same major problems that plagued it 30 years ago.

Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health CEO and President Dr. Stephen K. Klasko says the country’s health care system is facing some of the same major problems that plagued it 30 years ago.

But monumental changes to health care will come in the next 30 years, and it won’t always be without discomfort to the status quo, said Klasko, the keynote speaker at the Maimonides Society’s 30th anniversary on June 9 at the Jewish Community Center of the Lehigh Valley in Allentown.

Klasko was the former chairman of the obstetrics/gynecology department at Lehigh Valley Hospital before becoming the dean of the medical colleges at Drexel University and the University of Southern Florida.

“There’s pain involved with disruption,” said Klasko, who managed to pepper his hour-long presentation to about 200 people with a healthy dose of humor.

Klasko, who discussed some of the details from his recently published book, “We CAN Fix Healthcare: The Future is NOW,” had harsh criticism for the medical establishment, which he said is slow to change. That resistance is one of the reasons health care costs have been continuing to spiral and there has been little change in the fee-for-service system, he said.

“We blame everyone but us,” Klasko said. “All of us contribute to an inefficient, expensive, inequitable and unsafe health care system.”

For example, Klasko noted 25 percent fewer hospitals will be needed in the coming decades, but the country continues to build more hospitals — despite a decline in overnight stays and an increased need for home health care service. Between 2012 and 2022, it is predicted inpatient care will decrease 4 percent, despite an aging population, he said.

Klasko noted the disconnect that exists between hospitals as health care providers and the large number that have McDonald’s fast food restaurants in them.

Medical schools continue to educate doctors largely the same way that have since the 1960’s, and that’s a problem, he said.

“We do a really lousy job of training doctors,” said Klasko, who cited a study that said 70 percent of doctors in practice three years or less said they did not learn what they needed to know in their practice.

Wendy Solomon

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