Helping patients feel whole: Q&A with AdventHealth CXO Pam Guler

Pam Guler, vice president and chief experience officer for Altamonte Springs, Fla.-based AdventHealth, discusses how her role has expanded beyond overseeing federally mandated patient surveys, aligning thousands of team members around the same vision and mission and the core tenets of service at AdventHealth.

Editor's Note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: How has your role overseeing experience evolved in the last six years?

Pam Guler: My CXO role has evolved greatly over the last six years. It was originally designed with a focus in the acute setting, especially on inpatient HCAHPS results and drivers. The scope of my role has expanded to focus on consumer experience across the healthcare continuum. My role has rapidly shifted from a tactical approach to a more strategic approach over the years. To better focus on our consumers, my role now entails building matrixed partnerships with [leadership in] many areas, in addition to our clinical senior leaders, such as human resources, marketing, innovation and nonclinical operational leaders across the organization.

AdventHealth has come together under one brand this year, with much change underway and a brand promise to help our consumers feel whole. In addition to leading efforts focused on the personal interactions and overall experience of consumers while in our care, I am now more
deeply engaged in efforts around healthcare access, IT infrastructure, digital experience, transparency, care navigation and consumer insights. In these efforts alone, there is such a wide variety of activity, emphasizing that experience is not a thing to do, it is in everything that we do.

Q: What is your proudest moment/achievement as chief experience officer of AdventHealth?

PG: Coming together under one name, AdventHealth, was more than just a name change. Nearly 50 hospitals and an integrated network of physician practices, outpatient and post-acute services also aligned to one consistent culture. Through an immersive experience called 'The Whole Care Experience,' more than 60,000 team members are now aligned to the same mission, vision, values and one core set of service standards: Keep me safe, love me, make it easy and own it.

It was my privilege to lead that initiative in collaboration with our chief human resources officer. I am so proud of the outcome of this initiative and the many people who contributed to the unified culture that we continue to build upon today. Ultimately, this cultural framework helps us consistently deliver exceptional care to every person, every time.

Q: What is the biggest threat to provider experience today? How do you think it can be tackled?

PG: AdventHealth's service standards were not only designed to guide the way we serve our consumers. They were also designed for a framework of collaboration that we use internally between teams and among peers. It is key for leadership to be deeply involved in the provider experience. In our organization, we use our four service standards from a leadership perspective to support our providers and maintain a culture of close collaboration.

Make it easy — the tools our providers use to do their clinical work and the tools they offer their patients must be easy to use. We must have a culture where providers have trust in their leadership teams and engage in a collaborative effort to safely and reliably deliver care to their patients.

Love me/keep me safe — We must support our physicians' unique needs so that they continue to find joy and fulfillment in practicing medicine and avoid burnout. If we foster an environment of love and compassion among our teams, we believe it shows through in our providers' patient care. Another way leadership can show love is to fairly and quickly address any issues with compliance to the policies and procedures that keep our providers and patients safe. Leaders should be engaged directly with their medical staff so they can identify pain points and help find solutions.

Own it — Our providers should feel a sense of ownership of decisions that impact clinical and business practice such as evidence-based pathways and supply chain choices. Leadership training, provider onboarding and continuous professional development opportunities are key to helping our providers own their work and the experience they offer their patients.

Q: How is AdventHealth planning to take patient experience to the next level in the next few years?

PG: We aim to serve our consumers as a health partner in their journey through all stages of life and health. We are on a path to engage consumers more closely so we can provide individualized care that treats the whole person: body, mind and spirit.

In order to reach the next level of patient experience, we must have a strong team member and provider experience as a foundation to build upon. Our team members and providers are the heart of our faith-based organization. Providing a world-class culture in which they can thrive allows them to deliver compassionate care and an exceptional experience. Our clinical product will continue to be a primary focus, with exceptional care delivery and experience at the forefront.

Q: In what ways do you think your role will change over the next five years? What excites you most and what worries you most?

PG: This role will continue to be heavily engaged in efforts to meet our consumers' needs in-person and online along their journey. We are on a journey to become much more sophisticated in studying consumer insights, beyond experience surveys and social ratings, to further our strategies and best meet the needs of our communities.

The challenges ahead will require effective partnerships across all areas of the organization in order to deliver a consistent patient experience that helps people feel whole.

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