Best of the Podcast 2018: Defining Patient and Customer Experience at Cedars-Sinai Hospital

Today’s podcast is the last replay featuring “best of” content from 2018. Thank you all for your support and for taking the time to listen to these podcasts. I’ve got a lot of great interviews coming up that I can’t wait to share with you!

I’m revisiting a conversation I had with Alan Dubovsky, a well-respected colleague in the industry, who is the Chief Patient Experience Officer at Cedars-Sinai Hospital. Alan shared the unique situation that placed him in this position at Cedars-Sinai, his prior experience in the healthcare industry, and the extensive work he’s done to define his newly created role.

Healthcare is Complex, Try to Understand the Big Picture

What I really appreciated about Alan’s story is his diverse background in healthcare. Before becoming the Chief Patient Officer at Cedars-Sinai, he was the program coordinator for the oncology program at Northside Hospital in Atlanta. He spent a few years in this position, learning how strategy comes together with operations, which is something that became extremely useful for his future as a chief patient experience officer. Alan developed experience getting into the weeds of the work.

Alan had a good rapport with the CEO at Northside, and a few years later, was asked to run patient relations after the manager left for a sabbatical. This was Alan’s first experience in a managerial position, but he was excited to take on the challenge, especially as it was his first patient facing role. It was here, where he began to think about the ways you can work with a patient to make something that’s going bad to go a little bit better.

While managing patient relations, Alan realized there was still so much more that he needed to know in the grand scheme of healthcare. In his next position, he went into a behind-the-scenes role at The Advisory Board Company as the director of member services. He spent three years here traveling the country meeting with hospital executives all the way from HR to IT to finance. Alan truly valued this experience because when he came back into customer experience in healthcare, he had a better understanding of how internal and external factors played a part in operations.

Be Strategic and Operational When Preparing for Change

When Alan stepped into his CPO role at Cedars-Sinai, he needed to understand what the experience looked like from both sides of the spectrum. How were patients and hospital staff affected by the hospital experience? Alan gathered feedback from a myriad of groups in the hospital. He spoke to senior leadership (the C-Suite), frontline employees from in-patient nursing units, ambulatory clinics, nurses, care techs, and even environmental services workers. Of course, Alan also spoke with and listened to patients.

During this time, Alan set three major goals for himself. He wanted to finish as many informational interviews as possible, to put together an assessment, and then, to put all of his findings together in a presentation so he could draft an action plan. Alan did all of this listening, gathering of data, and presenting of his feedback within his first six months on the job.

Make Your Transformation Plan Palatable to Your Teams

When Alan developed his action plan, he ended up with about 25 projects to improve the patient experience. His C-Suite was receptive to the plan because they already had previous knowledge of some of the CX challenges from Alan’s initial feedback presentation. He didn’t just walk in on day one and say, “Look, here’s 25 projects we should do.” Alan used his strategic and operational experience to approach the situation in a smart and thoughtful way.

In order to make 25 projects more digestible for everyone involved, Alan grouped the work into five buckets of work that everyone should focus on. The first bucket was to consistently create a standard definition of what patient experience means, what are the goals, and “how are we doing?” This is a great start, because everyone needs to be on the same page when understanding what it is that they’re actually working towards. Check out my original episode show notes to see the rest of Alan’s buckets.

Combine strategic and operational skills to create a realistic CX plan that your team can execute. #CustomerExperience #CX Click To Tweet

Improve Your Project Management Skills

Lastly, Alan shared some advice regarding resources that help him work more efficiently in terms of implementing the CX transformation. Alan mentioned that his project management skills are what really allows him to maintain momentum on the projects. With his prior experience as a facilitator and coordinator, he understands how important it is to be organized and to also have the right people on your team. Alan has a partner manager working with him and was in the process of hiring another one.

Sharpen your project management skills so you can maintain momentum on your CX projects and not feel overwhelmed. #CustomerExperience #CX Click To Tweet

About Alan Dubovsky

DEFINING THE CHIEF PATIENT EXPERIENCE OFFICER ROLE AND WORK AT CEDARS-SINAI HOSPITALAlan Dubovsky is the Chief Patient Experience Officer for Cedars-Sinai Health System in Los Angeles, California. In his role, Alan is responsible for the facilitation of all patient experience strategy and operations improvements in the inpatient, ambulatory, emergency, and ancillary areas for the health system. Alan joined Cedars-Sinai in November, 2016, with 15 years focused on healthcare patient experience improvement.

Prior to joining Cedars-Sinai, Alan was with Emory Healthcare in Atlanta, Georgia, serving as the Director of Operations. In that role, Alan was responsible for the departments of patient experience, physician engagement, special constituent and international patient programs, referral management, education and training, and leadership and talent development.

Alan completed his undergraduate degree in Business Administration at the University of Georgia and his Executive Master in Business Administration at Emory University.


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