In The Year 2024…


DATE: July 25, 2024
FROM: Stephen K Klasko, M.D., M.B.A.
Retired President & CEO, Thomas Jefferson University and Health System
Current CEO, Steve’s Vinyl Emporium and Implantable Health Chips, South Street, Philadelphia

Dear Colleagues,

Klasko-2024Here we are in the year 2024 and as I take stock over the past decade it is amazing how far we have come toward “accurately” reflecting the academic and healthcare organizations of excellence based on the issues that really matter to students and patients.

Gone are the days when we painted an idealized picture of the past that rewarded academic and health care entities for doing “more of the same” as they resisted those disruptive changes in 2014 that would push our industry toward its current state of high-quality, low-cost patient-centric care.

Even our magazine’s title, U.S. News & World Report, has changed to recognize the discovery within the last five years of other inhabited planets with their own imperfect academic and healthcare institutions.

Here are the five academic and five healthcare parameters leading to “best of” status that have changed the most during the last ten years:


  1. Personal and professional outcomes at 1 year, 3 years and 5 years:  Since universities used to charge an obscene tuition with no real follow-up or incentive for individual student success (which is why we should have universities in the first place), our rankings are now heavily weighted toward a survey mechanism measuring an individual’s professional and personal happiness at varying intervals after graduation.
  2. Collaborative quotient: While ten years ago, there was almost no incentive for universities or medical centers to work with each other, we have now recognized that the arms race between academic entities within shouting distance of each other just served to raise costs and did little to improve outcomes.  We now give “extra points” to those academic entities that “get over themselves” and work well with others.
  3. Entrepreneurial quotient: Ten years ago the “e” word was discouraged as a measure of academic or hospital success.  Today we reward those institutions that have invented and envisioned new ways of doing things that bring in alternative sources of revenue to fund growth and create business opportunities.
  4. Coolness factor: This one is simple.  We recognized, here at USNIR, that we often had a group of sixty-somethings ranking schools that would be teaching  twenty-somethings.  We now have a separate panel of recently graduated students that assesses how technology is utilized to “make learning fun.”
  5. Disruptive quotient: Extra credit is given to those academic entities that invested in and created ideas that may fundamentally transform an area of interest. This quotient is not dependent on success or failure, just an attempt to be disruptive that has others thinking differently.

Hospitals and Health Systems:

  1. The “BUB” Quotient: This is a quotient that did not even exist in our rankings for 2014 but it is the “believable understandable bill” quotient.  It reflects an understanding that the absurd non-readable bills that patients have previously been subjected to reflect a larger disregard for our customer base.
  2. The “Before I Go To Sleep, Does the Doc Know What He’s Doing” Quotient: This is another new factor that replaces the “making never events…never happen” quotient that we instituted in 2017.  Simply put, the hospitals that are rewarded are those that validate their surgeons have been “competence certified” objectively in each of the procedures they perform.
  3. The “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” Factor: This is another one of our new “being patient centric is not just marketing ” parameters.  We hire random people of average intelligence and good eyesight to navigate the halls of your hospital and “find” various important areas such as nursing stations, ERs, ORs etc.  There is also a diversity component (we hire surveyors that speak the top three languages spoken in your service area).  Extra points are given for helpful “guides” that can speak several languages.
  4. The “Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say” Quality Parameter:This research and parameter for “best of” has been a boon for graduates of marketing and communications programs.  We hire those individuals to read all the hospitals billboards, news ads, social marketing and web claims and investigate them for any semblance of truth and/or relevance.  Any health systems that grade “below zero” for this are transferred to the “quality fraud” section.
  5. The “Through the Patient’s Eyes” factor: Thanks to new technology that allows us to film hospital interactions directly from the patient’s vantage point (google glasses were an early iteration), literally through the patient’s eyes, we now take ten random samplings from each hospital and have other hospital CEOs watch the interactions and grade each from one to ten based on the “would I want to be treated that way” scale.

It’s hard to believe that barely ten years ago we were rating universities and health systems based on decades old parameters that had little to do with the actual patient or student experience.  Progress is grand…now if I could only get my TESLA hovercraft fixed!

This article originally appeared as “The 2024 U.S. News and Interplanetary Report rankings for best academic and health care organizations” on The Health Leadership Forum.