Turning ‘Pain Points’ Into ‘Bliss Points’: The Chief Experience Officer’s Rise In Home-Based Care

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Despite variations in service lines, size and operations, the best home-based care organizations all have one thing in common. 

These companies all prioritize the experience — of patients, clients and staff. And while every member of an organization plays a role in shaping the experience, this responsibility largely rests on the shoulders of what is now known as the chief experience officer.

The specific functions of the role, and official title, is dependent on the needs of each individual organization, but broadly, a chief experience officer is focused on implementing strategy that improves customer and employee experience.


At FirstLight Home Care, this person is Kristen Duell, who serves as executive vice president of experience and innovation.

Duell pointed out that most home-based care companies have always centered around experience. But what’s new is the organizations putting a name to this.

“I think about organizations that are really innovating and wanting to put a focus on what that innovation looks like,” she told Home Health Care News. “That can be through new technology, but that can also be through processes and people.”


Cincinnati-based FirstLight Home Care is a provider of non-medical home care that operates 200 independently owned and operated home care locations across the U.S. The company also has a specialized care program aimed at seniors with dementia.

Similarly, Jaya Kumar, who serves as chief digital and experiences officer at Bayada Home Healthcare, believes that the ethos of the role has always been present across home-based care.

“People have been intuitively doing that for the last decade, without calling it experience designer, or experience officer,” he told HHCN. “[It’s about], what can I do to make an interaction simple and elegant? It’s improving the quality and elegance of human interaction.”

Bayada provides home-based care services via its more than 26,000 care professionals. The company has locations in 23 states, as well as in Canada, Germany, India, Ireland, New Zealand, South Korea and the U.K.

In her role as EVP of experience and innovation, many segments fall under Duell’s purview.

“I have marketing that rolls up under me, so that requires everything from the franchisor perspective, but then I also have all new technology that rolls up under my purview,” she said. “When we want to explore a niche new technology, like some chatbots, or anything that rolls out into the patient’s home, those pilots would fall under my purview to explore how that would work.”

Kumar’s role as chief digital and experiences officer centers around “human-centric” design.

“In our solutioning, human-centric design is by far the most important step,” he said. “Now that I’ve understood the burden the person is facing, I am going to look at all the pain points in that transaction. For example, a nurse going to a patient. What are the pain points? Where am I going? What should I do to prepare for this visit? How do I [inform] the patient that I’m on the way? How does the patient [inform] me if there’s a change in his or her desire? Those are all the pain points that are very manually driven. I have to convert each pain point and create a solution that is digital.”

Kumar is focused on understanding the burden felt by the user and converting pain points to bliss points. This process is usually enabled by a technology solution.

Currently, Duell’s biggest goal for FirstLight Home Care is enhancing the company’s foundational processes.

“We’ve been really working on having really clear guidelines on how we’re going to interact and work together as a company and as a network,” she said. “Now that those are in place, we can move a whole lot faster with rolling out new technologies. I think some of the things that we really have focused on are how do we help our franchise owners reduce overhead costs, while being able to increase their revenue streams, so that they can pay their caregivers more, and provide additional benefits that makes them the provider of choice.”

Kumar has set his sights on implementing strategies that will make it easier for Bayada to serve more people at home.

Ultimately, he believes that even though his role is front and center, all members of an organization contribute to the overall experience.

“[It] doesn’t absolve the responsibility of a nurse who interacts with a patient, or a client, of managing that experience,” Kumar said. “That is the most misunderstood thing about this role. I fundamentally believe every interaction, whether you’re a support person, or nurse, or a patient — the person who’s interacting is the owner of that experience. The creation of a chief experience officer is not taking away that important critical accountability.”

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