The Cleveland Clinic was the first major academic medical center to make improving patient experience a strategic goal. In 2007, the medical institution hired its first chief patient experience officer (CXO) and established the Office of Patient Experience. These were also firsts.
“When we took a step back to evaluate why we come to work every day, we realized it’s for one reason—the patients,” says Adrienne Boissy, MD, MA, the clinic’s CXO. “Toby [Cosgrove, MD, president and CEO of Cleveland Clinic] had some key early experiences, which prompted us to think about patient experience as an organizational priority. These experiences led him to recognize the importance of caring for the soul of the patient, not just the body.
“The CXO was embedded into our executive team, which effectively wove it into our fabric.”
Since then, more than 60 other medical institutions across the country have followed suit.
But improving patient experience isn’t just “nice to do,” Dr. Boissy says. “The great part of these shifts in healthcare is that the government has created the burning platform for us. Organizations won’t survive in the current market if they don’t make it a strategic priority.”
So what are the key drivers of a positive patient experience?
“You cannot deliver an exceptional patient experience without safe care, high quality, or high value,” says Dr. Boissy, who adds that hospitalists shouldn’t underestimate their role in the patient’s experience.
“Hospitalists are leaders whether they have an official title or not,” she adds. “People watch how they behave and interact with patients and colleagues. Raising your own awareness about your ability to influence is key. Model the skills you hope to embed.”