By Stephen K. Klasko

Let’s be hard-headed about this: How we pay for health care is changing. Our ideas about keeping people healthy are growing. How we create a structure for care demands to be transformed. That means those of us who teach, those of us who discover, those of us who practice those ideas – we have to lead.

Every year, we fuss about various national surveys that rank our funding, our numbers and our subjective reputation. Sometimes those rankings help focus on those doing a great job, but mostly they miss this whole question: What about the future?

Here’s the survey I never see: How are colleges of the health sciences preparing for transformation? That should be the core ranking for any school of medicine, nursing, public and population health, pharmacy, health professions, physical therapy, and even biomedicine. Where are those numbers?

Anyone involved in teaching the next generation of health practitioners should be measured by how well they are anticipating the future. Here’s the great fun: As those of us in education anticipate the future, we will also create it. This means our nation’s academic health centers must lead transformation, including my own, Thomas Jefferson University and our TJUH System.

Take the high tech revolution as an example. Turns out it takes students with emotional intelligence to use smart technology. Why? That’s the beautiful paradox: As skill-based tasks are done by computers, it actually takes empathy to work with patients and colleagues to allow that technology to transform our teams and our care.

We need to ensure the greatest return on students’ tuition dollars. This will require different levels of faculty development, different ways of presenting material and new ideas about how students are coached by faculty.

Most importantly, we must remember that envisioning and creating the future is exciting. Embrace change. Embrace different. Think transformation.

Stephen K. Klasko, M.D. is president of Thomas Jefferson University and President and CEO of TJUH System in Philadelphia.