Dr. James Merlino, who was a keynote speaker at the 2014 Canadian Conference of Physician Leaders, is the Cleveland Clinic’s chief experience officer. In Service Fanatics, he describes how the Cleveland Clinic, an organization with an excellent clinical reputation and some of the best clinical outcomes in the world, evolved from an organization with low scores for patient experience to one that is among the highest ranked in the business.
The book shares how the Cleveland Clinic came to lead the research arena on the topic of patient experience. Some of the research findings were quite unexpected. After collecting and analyzing data for the last 5–6 years, the Cleveland Clinic has a lot of evidence that can help others improve their organization and move toward a sustainable health care system.
The book reveals the theory and the practice, as well as the strategy and the tactics Cleveland Clinic applied to become a world leader in patient experience. It shares how principles can be translated into methods to help not only others in the health care system, but also other businesses with customer experience.
Some chapters cover how patient experience was defined and then how the Patients First platform was developed to improve that experience. Other chapters describe lessons learned about organizational culture and how to change it, about training and recruitment, about measurement and improvement, and how to engage both salaried and fee-for-service physicians. As a result, patients and each of the 43 000 caregivers at the Cleveland Clinic are in a partnership, where the relationship itself affects outcomes of all measured parameters, simply because that relationship is the fundamental building block of the complex, adaptive system we call health care.
Merlino shares many examples of successes, failures, and his personal experiences, and he interweaves those with his feelings and thoughts as the process evolved. This sharing of personal experiences makes the book enjoyable to read, and it often feels like a narrative rather than a textbook. But be not mistaken, if you want to learn something about leading organizational cultural changes, about physician engagement, about successfully returning some of the caring into the health care system, you will find the theory and practice you need in this book.
In short, Service Fanatics deserves a spot on your shelf of leadership books.