Hospitals put patient experience officers in the C-suite

Fewer than 100 hospitals currently employ a CXO

A small—but growing—number of hospitals are adding chief patient experience officers (CXOs) to their executive staff as they focus more on consumer satisfaction, Alison Diana reports for InformationWeek HealthCare.

Hospitals that designate a top-level executive to oversee patient-centric efforts expect to benefit financially from the move as Medicare and other insurers increasingly consider patient experience surveys in reimbursement formulas.

According to Catalyst Healthcare Research, the hospital industry currently employs fewer than 100 CXOs. However, many hospitals have executives in charge of patient experience that are not in the C-suite, such as vice presidents or directors.

CXOs make the case of an experience officer in the C-suite

James Merlino—the CXO of the Cleveland Clinic—argues that appointing a top-level executive to oversee experience is critical for both employees and patients. It highlights the organization's commitment to positive patient experiences and gives departments a point person for all experience-focused initiatives.

"It's one thing to talk about how important [patient experience] is, but it's another to hold people accountable for it," Merlino says, adding, "To be successful with this you have to get people to believe it's important. I think hospitals that don't pay attention to it do so at their own peril."

Merlino names the 'biggest mistake' in health care

In a recent Catalyst survey, 62% of respondents said that visible support from leadership was the top factor behind successful patient experience campaigns.

At a hospital or health system with a strong focus on experience, CXOs work with most every department, partnering closely with the executive in charge of health IT.

"The CIO and CXO have to work hand in hand. Technology is changing every minute," says Jennifer Jasmine E. Arfaa, CXO at Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, adding, "Why not talk about the great things other hospitals are doing? Patients and families are the ultimate beneficiaries of good communication and teamwork throughout a hospital."

For instance, a screensaver conceived by the graphics department and distributed by the IT department can remind staffers through the hospital to be quiet at night so patients can sleep (Diana, InformationWeek HealthCare, 3/24). 

Five patient experience stories you won't want to miss

Sharing patient stories can be a simple, yet powerful way to cultivate caregiver empathy.

Watch now to hear Melissa Thomason, a patient and family advisor at Vidant Health, as she shares her life-changing experience. And check out four other videos on outstanding patient experience initiatives, including one that helped UCLA achieve a 60% increase in satisfaction scores.


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