He’s the first D.O. in the role since 1981
Kevin Klauer, D.O.’92, EJD, FACEP, says the personality traits that drove him to become a paramedic and then an emergency medical physician are the same ones that led to his latest role, as chief executive officer of the American Osteopathic Association. He’s the first D.O. to lead the AOA’s operations since 1981.
“In emergency medicine, you take time to decide where the true North Star is on an issue or in a case, and then you execute,” he says. “Paralysis by analysis does not serve the ER doctor; it also won’t serve an organization.”
That doesn’t mean Klauer is making snap decisions as CEO of the Chicago-based association that represents more than 145,000 osteopathic physicians and medical students. He began working in the role 60 days before his official start date of June 1, 2019, while wrapping up more than 70 projects at TeamHealth, a leading clinician services organization, where he most recently served as chief medical officer for hospital-based services, chief risk officer and executive director for the patient safety organization.
“It’s important to me to leave one organization in a good way, and I wanted to begin working right away at the AOA on its priorities,” he says. He participated in approximately 40 conference calls with AOA leaders and crafted a 30-plus-page document to guide his work on those priorities: improving services to members and to state affiliates and enhancing the association’s certifying board services, which entail certifications in 29 primary specialties and 77 subspecialties. Since he took office, the AOA has updated its assessment process to better support lifelong learning and continuous professional development, changed its certification fee structure and reorganized certifying board services’ leadership structure to enhance communication and cost savings.
The AOA has 55 other goals beyond those overarching goals, and each of its approximately 140 employees has his or her own goals that align with the organization’s. “Every person in the AOA needs to feel their talents and daily work advances the association,” Klauer says.
He and his colleagues, including in the AOA’s Washington, DC, office, also work to serve as “an advocacy voice for the osteopathic profession.” He believes that osteopathic physicians have important roles in expanding health care access and reducing the high costs and poor outcomes of care in the United States.
“I’d be overstating our influence if we said the osteopathic profession has the sole answer for addressing that. But it’s not a new problem that the largest spending on a person’s health occurs in his or her last six months of life, even when we know that person won’t have a good outcome,” he says. “It’s a question of how to best utilize resources for the patient. That’s embedded in the osteopathic philosophy, asking patients’ families, ‘What do you want for your loved one?’
“I’m not saying who should get services and who should not, but rather it’s reducing spending on futile care,” he adds. “We as osteopathic physicians have the opportunity to lead these conversations. Health care will continue to look to us for answers. The ways we holistically treat patients and educate students will guide us to a different place.”
Kevin Klauer, D.O.’92, EJD, FACEP, has served as an assistant clinical professor at Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine and a clinical assistant professor at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Medicine. He was recognized by the American College of Osteopathic Emergency Physicians with the 2018 Outstanding Educator of the Year award. A Fellow and member of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) board of directors, he was medical editor in chief for ACEP Now from 2014 to 2019 and is a past ACEP Council speaker, editor-in-chief of Emergency Physicians Monthly, a manuscript reviewer for the Annals of Emergency Medicine and a member of the editorial board of the ED Legal Letter. The author of several medical book chapters, he has received numerous awards for his excellence in writing and public speaking.