Removing barriers, improving lives: Amy Mansue explains her new role at RWJBarnabas Health

The complex and rapidly evolving healthcare landscape adversely affects providers and patients alike. With consumerism becoming more entrenched in healthcare, patients are more careful about choosing where they receive care, prioritizing the experience they will have. Providers also are experiencing burnout at higher rates than ever. Thus, healthcare organizations are focusing on experience on both the patient and provider side, increasingly creating roles in their C-suite to help manage and enhance these experiences.

West Orange, N.J.-based RWJBarnabas Health named Amy Mansue executive vice president and chief experience officer in February. Here, she details her new role and discusses how it can help alleviate provider burnout and improve patient experience.

Note: The following responses were lightly edited for length and clarity.

Question: What are your key responsibilities as chief experience officer?

Amy Mansue: One of the ultimate responsibilities of this position is to encourage our team to see our consumers as partners in their healthcare journey. I had the privilege to see this transformation happen at Children's Specialized Hospital, an RWJBarnabas Health facility, where for 14 years I witnessed the successes that come from engaging with families as a part of the care-delivery process. Most people do not come to a hospital because they want to. Our responsibility is to meet people where they are, whether it is our patients, families or employees, and identify the barriers that we can combat as we work to improve lives.

Another key area priority in our culture journey is ensuring, identifying and developing talent from within our system. We serve a diverse population, and we are very proud that our employees are even more diverse than the state of New Jersey. Our leaders need to reflect this diversity.

Day-to-day, I see this work happen on the front lines. One of the key areas of focus is ensuring that we also create an environment that emphasizes employee wellness, both emotional and physical, to create a fully engaged workforce, which will result in satisfied patients.

We are building on the success we have already had in our work through our social impact and community investment and becoming a high-reliability organization. It is all part of the system's vision to move from a provider of healthcare to a health company, creating healthy communities, including ensuring their access to behavioral health services. We are working together to provide equitable, safe, quality care for our patients through the principles of high-reliability organizations, and also extending that to the communities we live in and ultimately creating better emotional and physical health for every New Jerseyan.

Question: What are some challenges you are facing in this role, and how are you working through them?

AM: Our employees possess an immense passion for healthcare and for serving our patients each day. My role, and also challenge, is to help remove any barriers that they face so they can find their passion and do their job as effectively as possible.

Identifying barriers comes from walking in the shoes of the employees, listening to them about what gets in the way of their being able to truly listen to our patients' needs and to work collaboratively to create solutions.

Whether at a meeting of one of our nursing teams for a 6:30 a.m. change-of-shift report or sitting with the IT team as they tackle the merging of two computer systems, the key for me is to help healthcare experts see the individual patient while we are rushing to tackle the next crisis.

Question: With physician burnout on the rise, how do you think those in your role can help?

AM: I think we need to shift the conversation and start talking about physician and clinician wellness. In this position, I believe we can give them the tools to effectively manage stress and burnout and help them get closer to why they went into healthcare in the first place. We know that medical science and our efforts to be more exact in our diagnoses and treatment have increased life expectancy, and that puts a lot of pressure on our clinicians. We need to help train them to manage the unpredictable challenges each day may bring. Burnout is a barrier that we can break down by creating a model of wellness.

Question: How are you engaging with patients to truly transform their experience?

AM: We have implemented a patient and family advisory committee at each one of our facilities across the system. We are also taking a close, analytical look at the patient feedback we receive at each facility. By truly listening to this feedback and working together, the issues become solvable. Listening is absolutely crucial — there should not be any jargon or technical talk when engaging with patients. We must listen kindly and with compassion and, as I mentioned previously, acknowledge them as not just patients but as our partners in success.

Question: What is one initiative you plan on implementing at RWJBarnabas Health this year?

AM: One important initiative is to roll out the inclusion of patients on all operating committees across the system. I have witnessed success in integrating patient voices into the efforts to improve how we deliver the care to our patients and how we interact with each of them. I consider the voice of the patient to represent the experts of our care delivery. They live it, and their perspectives are more important than my own, or any of our executives. By listening and using our voices together, we will be able to live into our aspirational goal of creating a healthier, safer New Jersey.

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