What do you have to be to become a CXO?
What kind of background “qualifies” you to become a Chief Experience Officer (CXO) in a hospital or other healthcare organization? Well, it turns out there is no single answer.
Worked in a non-profit? Worked for NASA? Been a nursing or marketing leader? Almost any background can provide the grounding and dare I say “wisdom” to ascend to a senior leadership role around patient experience.
That’s what we found when Jason Wolf (president of The Beryl Institute) and I interviewed 15 different CXOs or equivalents, some working for a single hospital, others working in a large system.
Jeanette Hodge, Executive Director of Patient Experience at Yale-New Haven Hospital, said that her professional life has been “grounded in relationship building.” Her background includes work as a Patient Advocate and she holds a volunteer administration certification.
Chris Holt feels that her background in marketing and branding is a key asset. She holds a dual role at Mercy Hospital in Meadowbrook, Pennsylvania as the Vice President of Marketing and Chief Experience Officer. She believes and views “patient experience” as a natural extension of the brand.
Even NASA can prepare someone for a patient experience job! Devin Carty (CXO with Cancer Treatment Centers of America) told us that his time at NASA exposed him to rational decision making, while working for Gallup revealed how emotions often govern our decisions and memories. He understands that both are important elements in shaping impressions around one of the most emotional times in a person’s life (when they’re sick or hurt or receiving care).
If our interviewees had one characteristic in common, it was the idea that in previous positions they have been connected , in some way, with consumers. They have the ability to see and sense the world through a consumer’s eyes. In one case, it wasn’t the professional background but the profound personal experience of being a patient that he credits with his ability to to do his job now. Today, he’s the Vice President of Hospitality & Service Culture with Henry Ford Health System.
Some of the CXOs were recruited from within the organization, but just as often they were brought in from elsewhere, including other industries such as hospitality. Paul Westbrook at Inova Health System represents such a case; he spent many years as an executive with Ritz Carlton. It seems that there is no single path to becoming a CXO; the door is open for those with the passion, sensitivity, and proven leadership skills.
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