Henry Ford Health CXO David Duvall on creating memorable journeys for patients

David Duvall, senior vice president and chief marketing, communications and experience officer of Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, discusses patient experience metrics, employee wellness and the importance of anticipating patient needs.

Q. What are your key responsibilities as a chief experience officer?

David Duvall: As chief experience officers, our view should truly be end-to-end. A person's wellness journey begins long before she walks through our doors or before he makes his first appointment. It begins with how our customers perceive us before they make the decision to trust us with their care or their family member's care. Once that decision is made, we enter into what we hope is a lifelong commitment to create an ongoing experience that is heartfelt and personalized, seamless and convenient.

I am so fortunate to be with an organization like Henry Ford that is committed to leading this national movement to build the customer experience into our strategic approach and [our] everyday way of working. That empowers us, on a much greater level, to boldly advocate for our patients and insurance company members, partnering with operational leaders to drive an ever-improving experience. That's what our customers want and deserve.

Q. What is the No. 1 challenge you are facing in your role and how are you tackling it?

DD: Our No. 1 challenge is determining and aligning on what kinds of behaviors will have the most powerful impact on metrics like HCAHPS and CG-CAHPS [CAHPS Clinician & Group Survey]. To that end, at Henry Ford, we believe it's time to take a serious look at the utility and actionability of both CAHPS domains for measuring and improving experience. In fact, other metrics give us deeper insights into the customer experience — such as consumer preference, brand equity and net promoter — and are proving more useful.

Q. What are some of the untapped opportunities to improve patient experience today?

DD: Traditional research often limits us to what the customer is willing or able to share at the time. What about the needs or problems our customers may not feel comfortable sharing or those they don't even realize they have? My experience in consumer engagement has led to a critical realization. No matter where our customers are on their journey — even if it's a wellness visit — they are often more vulnerable than we might expect. A big opportunity is to draw upon insights from the field of behavioral economics, uncovering those unstated motivations and emotions our customers are experiencing and creating an environment that anticipates and prevents those stressors before they occur.

Another opportunity is to eliminate the friction many customers have experienced because of the historically fragmented structure of our industry. We must create memorable journeys that are digitally enabled, but with a consistent human touch from beginning to end.

Q. How do you see your role evolving in the healthcare field over the next five years?

DD: Over time, chief experience officers will have an expanding and critical responsibility to help their organizations focus on what will make the most meaningful impact on their customers. We will play an ever-increasing role in organizing, integrating and aligning our organizations and capabilities around a holistic strategy. There is, however, an emerging practice of distributing the responsibility for patient experience across the C-suite and broader organization, while expanding the scope to include employee and provider experience. Either way, we must maintain a relentless focus on priorities that are governed by data-driven decisions and a commitment to viewing everything we do through the lens of our customers.


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