Give people the same challenge and they can each come up with different solutions. This is the case with an emerging executive role in healthcare, the Chief Experience Officer (CXO or, in some organizations, the Chief Patient Experience Officer). The challenge for those in the role is the enterprise’s broad mission: to provide extraordinary patient care. But with so expansive a goal and no true predecessors to learn from, CXOs find themselves – along with their organizations – developing their own unique blueprints for the role.
Witt/Kieffer senior partner, Donna Padilla, explores the nascent CXO role in a recent article, “The Chief Experience Officer: Building Without a Blueprint,” featured on the Advance Executive Insight website. The article draws from discussions Padilla has had with several healthcare Chief Patient Officers.
While these executives’ paths to their positions were similar – all were internal hires who brought strong operational backgrounds – each defines his or her role differently. “One spends most of his time on the front lines, working with staff, speaking with patients, tweaking and fine-tuning day-to-day habits,” Padilla explains. “Another holds a full-fledged C-suite strategic position, more of a general than foot soldier. Yet another is somewhere in between, a strategist and operational expert who is just as likely to be speaking with the CEO as an ER nurse.”
The Chief Experience Officer or Chief Patient Experience Officer springs out of healthcare reform and the need for hospitals to become more patient-centric. The CXO holds the promise of being a mediator who can bridge the gap between the patient and the C-suite. Jason A. Wolf, PhD, president of the Beryl Institute, and Dan Prince, president of Catalyst Healthcare Research, further investigate the role of the healthcare Chief Experience Officer in a white paper published by Beryl earlier this year: the CXO, they note, “ensures a seat at the table for the voice of the customer to be heard and acted on when senior leaders gather and make decisions.”
Because it’s such a new role, the healthcare CXO’s metrics for success have yet to be clearly defined. The ROI is still being calculated, yet progressive systems believe in the concept. Those in the role are implementing “cultural and experimental change,” according to Padilla, and building teams to support their blueprints. As the healthcare Chief Experience Officer becomes more standardized, the position will lose some of its innovativeness but gain effectiveness, thus changing healthcare customer service as we know it today.
By Brianna Scharfenberg, Communications Assistant