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CXOs Expected to Make Patients 'Architects of Improvement'

Vocera  Communications Inc., a company that offers robust clinical communications systems for healthcare and has systems installed in more than 1,300 organizations worldwide, recently released an annual research report,  titled, "The Rise of the Healthcare Chief Experience Officer: 2016."

The study-an update of the 2015 report, "The Evolving Role of the Healthcare CXO"-was released during Vocera's Experience Innovation Network's (EIN's )10th semi-annual CXO Roundtable, held earlier this year  in San Francisco. It found certain changes which the authors believe will usher in an era focusing less on patient experience and more on the human experience-serving patients and families while simultaneously supporting care teams in achieving their highest healing potential.

These changes include:

• Greater alignment and integration with quality/safety and process improvement efforts-often with experience as the umbrella strategy;

• Deeper engagement of key stakeholders, including physicians, board members, and patients and families. Patients will increasingly be the architects of improvement;

• Broader focus across the continuum of care so that experience improvement ceases to be focused on the inpatient hospital environment; and

• A concerted focus on physician, nurse, and staff well-being, joy, and resilience to combat initiative fatigue and drive sustainable change.

Vocera's Experience Innovation Network is an international group of industry thought leaders focused on putting the science behind the experience of care and discovering innovative solutions that meet the "quadruple aim" of improving population health, elevating patient-centered care, and reducing costs while restoring joy back to the practice of medicine.

In 2015, the Experience Innovation Network published the first study focused on the evolving role of the CXO in healthcare. The report established a benchmark for the industry, revealing priorities, resources, and responsibilities of these emerging change agents. For the 2016 research report, more than 100 leaders from in-patient and out-patient organizations across the United States and Canada once again provided insight about the role of leading experience transformation.

 Nearly 40% of CXOs report directly to the chief executive officer (CEO) or their health system president, while 28% report to a clinical executive in quality, medicine or nursing. More women than men are leading healthcare experience work, according to the report, and the median number of staff members reporting to these leaders has nearly doubled since last year's survey. On average, experience leaders have 20 people reporting to them. However, 13% said they have no direct reports, leaving them dependent on other teams' resources to accomplish experience goals.

While the most extensive work on experience improvement centers around clinical interactions that patients and families have with doctors and the care team, only 12% of experience leaders have a medical degree. Nearly two-thirds of CXOs in the research viewed physicians as passive or obstructive to experience work, and only 4% of respondents said physicians at their organizations are active leaders of experience improvement efforts.

"It is important for CEOs to elevate experience improvement as the top strategic priority for their organizations, engage physicians in the work, and support CXOs as they tirelessly lead this work. Only by driving meaningful human-to-human connections across the entire continuum of care will healthcare systems succeed in long-term differentiation, loyalty and growth," said Bridget Duffy, MD, chief medical officer of Vocera. "With burnout and fatigue at an all-time high for physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals, executives can strengthen care team collaboration and well-being by creating environments that support these healers and restore joy to the practice of medicine."

Patients and families must also be empowered to engage more in experience work. Only 28% of research participants said they partner with patients in every improvement project, and 7% said they don't engage patients at all.

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