Patient experience gets a seat at the C-suite table

With patient experience playing an increasingly large role in healthcare, more hospitals seek chief patient experience officers (CXOs) to lead the initiative, Information Week reports.

While some organizations, like Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C., and the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison actively recruit CXOs, the industry currently employs fewer than 100, according to Catalyst Healthcare Research. Although 29 employees at 642 large Southeastern hospitals have the words "patient experience" in their title, the majority are vice presidents or directors rather than C-suite execs.

A high-level employee focused on patient experience benefits both patients and employees, Cleveland Clinic CXO John Merlino, M.D., told Information Week. When a hospital has a CXO, he said, it gives all departments a "point person" for patient experience initiatives.

"It's one thing to talk about how important [patient experience] is, but it's another to hold people accountable for it," Merlino told Information Week. "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. We are in a competitive environment today and this is an important differentiator for payments. This puts the focus back on how we deliver care."

CXO positions started to crop up at hospitals in 2012 to help boost patient satisfaction scores in the wake of value-based purchasing programs, FierceHealthcare previously reported. 

Changing needs within the healthcare industry mean increased specialization of the C-suite; another title, the chief population health officer, is similarly on the rise, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- here's the Information Week article
- read the Catalyst research

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