Hospital Chief Experience Officer as Head Rule Breaker

Lena J. Weiner, June 2, 2014

A hospital's CXO is often the one person who can coordinate cooperation among departments to ensure patient experience problems get resolved before they impact HCAHPS scores, which can affect reimbursement.

Sometimes, the only way forward is to break the rules.

After years yearning for a child, and less than three weeks after finally giving birth, Allana Guidry was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia. Guidry needed immediate treatment, but the Cleveland Clinic, where she was being treated, does not allow visitors under age 18 to stay overnight in the oncology ward.

That meant she would have to be separated from her newborn. And Guidry was reluctant to be treated for her cancer if she couldn't have her baby with her.

After some deliberation among departments, including nursing, housekeeping, and the office of patient experience, it was decided that being near her family was an integral part of Guidry's healing process. Guidry's husband and baby were got the OK to live with her in the hospital while she received a bone marrow transplant and chemotherapy.

If James Merlino, MD, chief experience officer (CXO) at the Cleveland Clinic, and others in his position have their way, the days of rigid adherence to outdated rules are numbered.

"The Cleveland Clinic began emphasizing patient experience about eight years ago," says Merlino. "Back then, our patient experience rating [determined by HCAHPS scores] was among the lowest in the United States. You can't be a top brand and have patients walking away with a bad experience."

Lena J. Weiner

Lena J. Weiner is an associate editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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