Fierce Q&A: Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj wants you to give him a call

24/7 accessibility improves patient experience, employee satisfaction

Windsor Regional Hospital CEO and President David Musyj has taken an unconventional approach to patient and staff communication--he freely gives out his cell and home phone number to the public. Despite what people may think, the Ontario, Canada-based CEO says most of the response is positive. FierceHealthcare spoke with the Hospital Impact contributing blogger on how he does it and why he recommends it for other hospital CEOs.

FierceHealthcare: Hospital CEOs don't typically give out their personal contact information. How did you decide to do it?

David Musyj: I got the idea from a brief comment in a book called The Baptist Healthcare Journey to Excellence.

I started doing it in 2007. That's when I also started sending a welcome letter to every single patient that comes to the hospital. It welcomes the patient to the hospital, explains that we work as a team and talks about our employee recognition program. So if they think the employees are doing something great or going above and beyond, we ask patients to help us recognize that.

And at the end of the letter, I say if there are any issues that patients want to talk to me about, they shouldn't hesitate to call me. I give my email, office number, home number and cell number.

FH: Have you been inundated with phone calls? Do people abuse the fact you are so accessible?

Musyj: People might think you're crazy by giving out all those contact numbers. When I first did it, the staff thought it was a bad idea. They said "You'll never have time to do anything else besides answer the phone." 

It's actually the reverse.

In five years, I've received maybe 10 to 12 phone calls at home. Most, if not all of them, have been positive calls. When I get a positive call about an employee, I loop back with the staff member. When I first say to the staff member, "I received a phone call at home from a patient," they usually look worried. But I say, "Don't worry about it. They raved about you, and I just wanted to personally tell you that."

People do not abuse it.

FH: When you do get a complaint, how do you handle it?

Musyj: You have to make sure that when you do get that call you listen to the concerns. But don't trump and jump over all the procedures you have in place--be it a patient representative, the front-line staff, the supervisors, the directors or your VP. If you do that, you are micromanaging. And the next thing you know is you're the only one in the organization handling complaints.

Nine times out of 10 when I get contacted directly, the patient or the family is maybe unaware of individuals that they can talk to in the hospital so I direct that way and I'll keep in touch.

Keep small issues small. In healthcare, I've noticed that when you ignore small issues, they turn into big issues. If you don't deal with them initially, they become huge and sometimes irreversible.