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Dr. James Merlino  

Chief Clinical Transformation Officer of the Cleveland Clinic Health System

James Merlino, MD, Chief Clinical Transformation Officer, is responsible for helping to advance the success of Cleveland Clinic’s performance and supporting its vision to become the best place to receive care anywhere. Dr. Merlino oversees Enterprise Safety and Quality, the Office of Patient Experience and Continuous Improvement.

With over 30 years of healthcare experience, Dr. Merlino rejoined Cleveland Clinic in December 2019 following nearly five years at Press Ganey. At Press Ganey he served as President and Chief Medical Officer of the strategic consulting division since 2015, and in 2018, he took on the expanded role of Chief Transformation Officer at Press Ganey. He led the development of an integrated organizational strategy to broaden the definition of patient experience to include safe, high quality, patient centered care situated on a foundation of an aligned and engaged healthcare culture. The team grew to be recognized by Consulting Magazine as one of the top 10 fastest growing consulting organizations in the United States three years in a row, and in 2018 and 2019, Press Ganey achieved the Forbes designations as one of the “best management consulting firms.”

Dr. Merlino has led C-suite strategic sessions with more than 70 of the largest and most successful healthcare organizations in the United States, and regularly coached CEOs, C-suite leaders and healthcare boards on healthcare strategy. Prior to joining Press Ganey, Dr. Merlino served as Chief Experience Officer and Associate Chief of Staff at Cleveland Clinic, as well as a practicing staff colorectal surgeon in the Digestive Disease and Surgery Institute.

Recognized as an expert in improving the safety, quality, and patient experience, Dr. Merlino is frequently invited to speak on strategies to redefine care around the needs of the patient. In 2013, Dr. Merlino was named to HealthLeaders Magazine’s list of “20 people who make healthcare better,” and has consistently been on Becker’s list of top 50 experts in healthcare safety (including 2020). He has been widely published in academic papers, and in 2014, released his first book, “Service Fanatics: How to Build Superior Patient Experience the Cleveland Clinic Way.” He is an editor of the best-selling safety book “Zero Harm: How to Achieve Patient and Workforce Safety in Healthcare,” released in 2018.

Dr. Merlino earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Baldwin-Wallace College and a medical degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Dr. Merlino completed his general surgery training at University Hospitals of Cleveland and his colorectal surgery fellowship at Cleveland Clinic.

He is married to Amy Merlino, MD, who is Cleveland Clinic’s Enterprise Chief Medical Information Officer and a maternal-fetal medicine specialist.

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