Hospitals hire chief patient experience officers to recoup Medicare dollars

With the value-based purchasing (VPB) program set to kick in this October, chief patient experience officers increasingly are cropping up at hospitals to help boost patient satisfaction scores, reported Crain' New York Business.

Under VPB, patient satisfaction will determine 30 percent of the incentive payments, making chief patient experience officers a hospital "must-have" to increase scores and therefore Medicare reimbursements, the article noted.

"There's no question that we want to improve the patient experience because it's the right thing to do," Bernard Birnbaum, chief of hospital operations at NYU Langone Medical Center in Manhattan, told Crain's New York. "But there's also no question that dollars are involved now so we have to improve our programs so we can try to reclaim those dollars."

At NYU Langone Medical Center, the chief patient experience officer works to improve patient-provider communication, teaching staff to ask patients what questions they might have, not if they have questions. According to new research from HealthGrades, better communication translates to better patient safety and satisfaction.

Although every employee plays a role in patient experience, from caregivers to the housekeeping team, hospitals need a committed role to lead patient experience efforts, according to Jason A. Wolf, executive director of The Beryl Institute and blogger for Hospital Impact. "In my visits with healthcare organizations, I have found where there is a leader, there is clear focus, defined strategy and expanded levels of commitment," he wrote in a March blog post.

To ensure patient experience stays a top priority in the VBP environment, hospitals also can take a page from the Cleveland Clinic, which has a chief experience officer (CXO), who reports directly to its president and CEO. The CXO incorporates patient experience into the hospital culture through on-boarding processes and orientation, as well as guarantees patient experiences are consistent across the organization, Anthony Cirillo, president of Fast Forward Consulting and Hospital Impact contributor, explained in a blog post last year.

To learn more:
- read the Crain's New York Business article (registration required)