While some health systems hire and rely on chief experience officers, there are plenty that have never had such a position and instead localize the work at specific care sites or regions.
The structure is usually born out of a holistic approach to patient experience, according to healthcare leadership consultants. Ensuring patients and employees have a positive experience is the responsibility of everyone in the organization and a manager with boots on the ground helps galvanize that focus.
Experience “has evolved from ‘this is my job’ to ‘this is my job and his or her job,’ ” said Christopher Rowe, managing director of Korn Ferry.
Mayo Clinic has taken such an approach. The Rochester, Minn.-based system has an office of patient experience and within it are directors based in all seven regions, including its Arizona and Florida campuses. The directors help frontline staff and operations leaders tackle issues related to experience that are specific to their region. And the clinicians are heavily involved in the solutions in order to encourage buy-in, said Thomas Welch, vice chair of quality and administrator of the experience team at Mayo.
“We need the practice to own the improvements,” Welch said.
In conjunction with this localized approach to experience, Mayo Clinic’s leadership is in the midst of restructuring the office. About a year ago, Mayo Clinic internally changed the name of the office from patient experience to simply the “Mayo Clinic experience.”
Welch said caregivers, families and staff all affect the overall experience at Mayo and improvement work in this area should reflect that. “There is more than just the patient having the experience,” he said.
The system is now working on how to integrate the departments that overlap.
Chief experience officers have come to a similar conclusion. For instance, Laurie Brown, CXO at CHI Franciscan, oversees both patient and staff experience.
Mayo Clinic leaders haven’t yet considered having a chief experience officer because they don’t want the responsibility placed on one individual. But Welch said it could happen one day as the responsibility of experience becomes more broadly integrated across the institution.
“Maybe at some point,” he said. “Right now, I think the approach is effective … but we are in a period of change and evolution.”