The challenge in most organizations is that each one of the executive leaders has a bias towards the department they represent. The CNO is responsible for the nursing staff, the COO is responsible for operations, the CMO is responsible for physicians, the CFO is responsible for the bottom line, and the CEO has so many responsibilities already. No one really represents the patient from the patient’s perspective. When you get down to the director level, the silos are even more focused. Do they care about the patients’ satisfaction? Of course they do, because they are held accountable and some receive profit sharing (bonuses) on patient satisfaction scores. But who owns the entire patient experience? No one.

You might argue, “Everyone owns the patients’ experience.” And my response to that is that really each individual department triages the patient just enough to make them satisfied through the department’s eyes, not the patient’s eyes, and the patient’s eyes see their entire hospital experience as one entity. We’re symptom-fighting versus building the entire experience. Is it your fault? Not really. It’s difficult to think experientially when you are held accountable within your department only, and it’s difficult when you don’t have the authority to cut through departmental turf issues.

How do we resolve this?

We advocate that you create an executive position (like a Chief Experience Officer-CXO) to focus on the entire patient experience and to map out that experience. This person would bring together department heads monthly, make sure everyone is on same page of what their individual/department impact is on the patient experience, and evaluate patient satisfaction scores to not just meet expectations but to exceed expectations, one department at a time, each step of the way.

Why is this important enough to budget for?

Along with clinical excellence and financial stability, healthcare systems are being ranked and evaluated by objective assessors (satisfaction, “how did it make you feel?” questions) in hospital surveys, H-CAHPS, Gallup, Press Ganey, and online sites.

Each and every way that a patient (and their family) touches your organization becomes part of the “patient experience.” But who ultimately owns that experience? All too frequently there are many “chiefs,” but no one specific person who can cut through departmental turf issues and truly improve quality and efficiency all on behalf of patients… who can do this in your hospital?