CXO role gains steam as consumers gain clout

Patients 'expect the same level of experience they receive from other industries'
By Mike Miliard
11:17 AM
People in office environment

Not every healthcare provider has a chief experience officer, but more and more are finding that CXOs are key to enterprise-wide patient experience improvement and the alignment of quality, safety and performance strategies.

The 2015 Chief Experience Officer survey from Vocera bills itself as the first designed exclusively to capture the voice of CXOs and other senior-level experience professionals at hospitals and health systems in North America.

The role is an "essential and expanding executive position," according the report, especially as patients are empowered with better education tools and more choice about the providers they choose.

"Consumerism has been on the horizon for quite some time in healthcare, and now it is here," said Elizabeth Boehm, director of Vocera's Experience Innovation Network, in a press statement. "Providers are seeing the shift and recognizing patients as consumers. Patients have choices of where they go for healthcare and expect the same level of experience they receive from other industries."

Atop most CXOs' to-do lists? Cultural transformation, according to the poll, followed closely by initiatives to improve patient satisfaction. Some 70 percent of respondents said building a "relationship-based culture" that focuses on improving communications between physicians and staff was a top priority for 2015.

"Improving staff resiliency and providing support or training for physicians, nurses and frontline staff" is critical, said Boehm. If the healthcare experience for patients and families is to be improved, "staff experience must first be addressed."

[See also: Patient engagement means 'attitude adjustments' on both sides]

Among other findings of the report, forty-two percent of survey participants cited improving Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, or HCAHPS, scores as a main goal for 2015.

Toward that specific goal, and toward the larger mission of improving patient experience, CXO respondents identified four trends shaping their strategies: system collaboration and communication to provide seamless patient experiences; data transparency inside and outside the hospital and health system; technology enablement to remove barriers and improve efficiency and shifting perceptions from traditional patients to healthcare consumers.

Technology is a critical component as CXOs try to change the culture for clinicians, staff and patients within their organizations.

The report shows that 59 percent of respondents’ organizations have or are in process of integrating experience data into enterprise data warehouses. On the front lines, leadership rounding, post-discharge call platforms and bedside patient engagement systems are expected to be on the upswing in 2015.

Vocera's report includes insights from several CXOs who say technology is key to "hardwiring" organizational change related to patient experience

“A significant part of my time is spent looking at technology," said Cathy Harmer, system director of experience at Radnor, Pa.-based Main Line Health. "It is really important. We are very close to putting in an iPad-based video remote interpretation service for 24/7 access to language support. I want a bedside system to provide feedback and education, plus provide education post discharge. That is huge."

“We spent a lot of time upfront with patient rounding, including education and role playing," said another respondent, Missy Talmadge, director of patient experience at Dayton, Ohio-based Premier Health Partners. "Now we are two years in, and managers will look me in the face and tell me they do not do it every day. They get called by their director if the finance re port is not in but not if they do not round. I underestimated the importance of a technology tool to create accountability.”

Any technology must be accompanied good communication, however. The survey shows that 45 percent of respondents have communication training underway, and another 30 percent plan to implement programs in 2015. But just 10 percent have resiliency or other support programs in place for physicians and staff. While one-third are adding programs and another 23 percent have 2015 plans to do so, according to the report.

"The chief experience officer is a critical leadership role in healthcare," said M. Bridget Duffy, MD, chief medical officer of Vocera, in a statement. "This change agent is at the center of driving culture transformation and unifying quality, safety and experience strategies to improve care delivery.

"With a strong, respected CXO leading the charge, healthcare organizations can restore human-to-human connection and engage patients, families and clinicians as equal partners in improving the health of the population," she said.

Read the full report here.

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