James Merlino, MD, Named Inaugural Chief Clinical Transformation Officer

Merlino rejoins Cleveland Clinic to help execute bold strategic vision

James Merlino, MD

Cleveland Clinic has named James Merlino, MD, to the newly created post of Chief Clinical Transformation Officer, effective Dec. 1, 2019.


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In this position, Dr. Merlino will oversee the Office of Patient Experience, Enterprise Quality & Safety and the Office of Continuous Improvement. He will report directly to Cleveland Clinic CEO and President Tom Mihaljevic, MD.

Dr. Merlino is returning to Cleveland Clinic, where he served as a colorectal surgeon, Chief Experience Officer and Associate Chief of Staff from 2009 to 2014, after nearly five years at Press Ganey, most recently as its Chief Transformation Officer.

“By welcoming Dr. Merlino back to Cleveland Clinic, we’re gaining a national expert in the fields of patient experience and quality and safety,” Dr. Mihaljevic said. “His experiences make him uniquely qualified to lead our clinical transformation program and to continue building on our successes in quality, safety and patient experience.”


At Press Ganey, Dr. Merlino served as President and Chief Medical Officer of the strategic consulting division since 2015, taking on the expanded role of Chief Transformation Officer in 2018, where he led the development of an integrated organizational strategy to broaden the definition of patient experience to include safe, high-quality and patient-centered care situated on a foundation of an aligned and engaged healthcare culture. He has led transformational strategy engagements with more than 70 of the nation’s largest healthcare organizations.

“It’s wonderful to be back at Cleveland Clinic,” Dr. Merlino said. “Press Ganey is at the forefront of transformational strategy and I’m excited to use my experience with them to help execute the bold strategic vision laid out by Dr. Mihaljevic. Our No. 1 goal as healthcare providers is to improve the environment for patient care and caregivers, which is only possible through a critical interdependence of safety, quality and the experience of care.”

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


In 2013, HealthLeaders Magazine named Dr. Merlino as one of “20 people who make healthcare better,” and Becker’s Hospital Review listed him among the top 50 experts in healthcare safety four years in a row (2015-2018). In 2014, he released his first book, “Service Fanatics: How to Build Superior Patient Experience the Cleveland Clinic Way” and is an editor of “Zero Harm: How to Achieve Patient and Workforce Safety in Healthcare,” released in 2018.

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