Health Organizations Look to Chief Patient Officers for Holistic Approach to Patient Care

The blurring of the lines between clinical management and business management across health care organizations has led to the rise of a new executive title: chief patient officer. With the new title, organizations are taking a much more holistic approach to patient care, putting them at the center of care delivery.

Rather than simply being seen as patients under this new model, patients are being viewed as consumers who are empowered and are active in their own care — and health outcomes. It’s an approach that several home-based care providers and insurers have prioritized as well, largely due to their inherent ability to serve patients at home and in their everyday lives.

At Medtronic Diabetes Group, based in Northridge, California, Louis Dias holds the title of chief patient officer, a job that stemmed from the company’s realization that, in order to succeed, it needed to focus more on the patient as a consumer.


“Medtronic is a great medical device company,” said CPO Dias during health care technology publication MedCity’s Engage conference in early November. “It is focused on the mission of saving peoples lives … What we were not good at was the basic principles of being a great consumer company.”

Focusing on design, insights and relationships would better help Medtronic connect with its customers — those suffering from diabetes who use Medtronic’s devices to manage their lives with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

“My role is to balance saving peoples lives with those additional [aspects] — insights, empathy and care,” Dias said.


Incorporating the patient into the health care delivery process hinges on communication as well as metrics, but not necessarily the traditional metrics health systems have gathered, according to experts.

“The work I am doing with teams across Pfizer to bring in patient insights and preferences — that is the right thing to do,” said Roslyn Schneider, global patient affairs lead for Pfizer Medical. “In any other business you wouldn’t think about making decisions without engaging the end customer. The idea is if we do that we will make better business decisions.”

And with the rising influence of value-based care, more health care organizations are making this distinction, particularly in light of the care organization being responsible — and being reimbursed — for outcomes rather than under the traditional fee-for-service model.

A focus on home health care services has been a big part of the value-based care strategy of Louisville, Kentucky-based insurance giant Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM). Humana highlighted its value-based care progress in a new report released on Tuesday.

Humana continues to make investments in accelerating its integrated care delivery strategy, the company stated in the report. In general, that strategy encompasses supporting physician practices and care providers, making it easier for members to “engage at the intersection of health care and lifestyle,” and leveraging technologies and clinical analytics that enhance a holistic health approach.

Humana and two private equity firms finalizes their multibillion-dollar acquisition of Kindred at Home earlier this year.

Shannon Connor Phillips, chief patient experience officer for Intermountain Healthcare, a Utah-based, not-for-profit system of 23 hospitals and a medical group with more than 1,6000 physicians, among other services, also highlighted the role of value-based care at MedCity Engage.

Intermountain Healthcare, which offers its own health plan, recently partnered with Minnesota-based home care provider Lifesprk to launch a home-based, person-centered care program in Utah.

“When the government started measuring for performance … most health care organizations [had] someone, and only one, who was guiding that work,” Phillips, the first person to hold the chief patient experience officer title at Intermountain, said. “It very commonly comes out of nursing.”

But a focus on experience means measuring things not traditionally measured by health care organizations, and different leaders may be responsible for gathering and analyzing those metrics.

At Pfizer, traditional metrics are used to gauge how operations are working. Happiness is also measured under different scales,” Schneider said.

“Patients talk about relief, burden, control, and peace of mind. We look at additional metrics—such as satisfaction and loyalty — as well as the financial metrics,” she said.

Increasingly, that experience is connected to value, a driver in health care across all settings in today’s value-based world.

“Whether you do fee for service or population health, you will fail if you don’t pay attention to the voice of the patient. How we make you think and feel in health care is a huge driver in how you make decisions,” Phillips said. “Part of your experience is out of pocket cost. You can’t touch value without patient experience.”

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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