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Cultivating Community One Physician at a Time: Deborah Scheetz a SuperStar Liaison

Cultivating Community One Physician at a Time: Deborah Scheetz a SuperStar Liaison

Deborah Scheetz, MSc, Director of Professional Outreach/Physician Relations, Affinity Medical Center“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” -Tony Robbins, 1986

Tony Robbins could not have had better advice for a hospital liaison. And Deborah Scheetz, Director of Professional Outreach at Affinity Medical Center has stood by those words to accomplish great things in her career, including SuperStar status in our Liaison Legacy community.

Having a solid foundation in the industry, SuperStars demonstrate standout skills and receive excellent reviews from CEOs, service line directors, and physicians. Working with providers and their office staff, they are always prepared to deliver value, problem-solve, and communicate effectively. They utilize feedback to continuously improve. SuperStars also demonstrate leadership skills in both formal and informal roles. They help to train new liaisons and are catalysts for significant change. Long after our consulting engagements end, they continue to build and add value to the program.
In an interview with Deb, she shares her words of wisdom for success – both inside and outside of her career.

How did you enter the liaison role?

I was introduced to my current CEO, Ron Bierman while in my previous position as Director of Business Development for a long term care facility. I had coordinated various engagements for Mr. Bierman to speak to our community about the impact of healthcare reform on our local residents. It was through networking and building that relationship that I was asked to interview for the newly created position of Director of Professional Outreach and Physician Relations.

What part of your job as a liaison do you love the most?

Our end goal as a liaison is all about ease of access, being patient-friendly, and having efficient systems in place for our physicians. I love getting those calls from my physicians and practice managers who are dealing with frustrating issues that are interrupting their daily workflow – potentially affecting patient outcomes and satisfaction. Their response to me being their “problem solver” gives me a great feeling of accomplishment.

What is the least favorite part of your job?

Cleaning out my car on the weekends after a long week of traveling between site visits!

What is your most memorable accomplishment?

A dinner meeting can be a major, and meaningful, accomplishment. In one particular case, I had to be very creative, use various sources of communication, and leverage other business relationships to help me finally land “the meeting.” Once we were able to get everyone to the table (CEO included), communication blossomed. History was pardoned, the relationship is on the mend, referrals increased, and all continue to build. We are now helping that specific physician’s office recruit a new primary care physician to their team, and I have become an integral member of their internal team.
When the small things fall into place, big successes result, such as increasing our targeted physicians’ outpatient registrations by more than 3,000.

What are the essential skills or qualities that help you succeed as a liaison?

Energy, self-motivation, and the ability to maneuver autonomously to get the job done. Excellent communication and follow up skills, however, are essential in order to consistently build relationships and garner respect from those we are working with. Being accessible and delivering upon promises are key to building credibility. It’s important that we show the other person that we have their best interest in mind!

As the role of liaison has evolved – what has changed the most?

Communication—with healthcare technology advancing at lightning speed, everyone is at a different level and pace with digital communication. The key is connecting with our physicians wherever they may be: Facebook, LinkedIn, Doximity, Twitter, text, email, fax, or maybe none of the above! Today, the handwritten note carries with it much novelty and has been well received in a world of everything electronic.

What future steps in your career path look most appealing to you?

I would love to share my knowledge and experience through lecturing, coaching, and participating in educational forums that are setting the stage for healthcare innovation and reform.

What advice do you have for your “younger self” and for your “future self?”

I would advise my younger self to be a habitual learner, a sponge for knowledge, and to look for opportunities to put yourself in uncomfortable settings—sometimes, that is when we learn the most.

I would tell my future self to do the very best that you can do every day. When you are in that state of mind, conversations flow much more smoothly and positive attitudes ensue.

Whom do you consider to be a mentor?                   

There are two people who have been extremely generous with their time and mentorship towards me: my CEO, Ron Bierman, and Regional Manager at Tiller-Hewitt, Kim Grant.

If you could leave a legacy to your successor, your hospital, or community: what would it be?

It would be one of community, education, and a caring and conscience. We need to look outside of ourselves in order to build the future – do good in life – without expecting anything in return.

In a nutshell – why did you become a liaison?

Change is inevitable. Competition is fierce. Preparation is the key. The physician liaison is the window into this future. We can act as the catalyst for change, collaboration, identifying reasons for census decline, and grabbing hold of opportunities in order to gain a competitive advantage. The physician liaison is an invaluable asset to a hospital team in today’s ever-changing world of healthcare reform and is now more important than ever! I love being that conduit.

In what ways has the Tiller-Hewitt program made a difference in your professional journey?

I have worked in the areas of healthcare business development and physician relations for more than twenty years. In that time, I have had many different positions, but none with the support, training, data analytics, mentorship, coaching, and administrative engagement that provides long-term strategic growth and improves the overall quality of care like the Tiller-Hewitt program provides.

The Liaison Legacy series celebrates the 15th anniversary of Tiller-Hewitt HealthCare Strategies by offering a forum for sharing best practices. Learn more about how we can help you leave a strong legacy within your profession, hospital, and community.