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An Elevator Story: Physician Liaison Making a Legendary Difference

An Elevator Story: Physician Liaison Making a Legendary Difference

Tammy Windsor, Director of Marketing and Business Development,  South Texas Orthopedic Specialty GroupTammy Windsor was just a few months into her job as the home healthcare liaison at Nix Hospital in San Antonio. Stepping into the elevator, she encountered CEO John Strieby with Tammy Tiller-Hewitt, who was preparing to launch the physician-hospital relations program. John identified Tammy Windsor-Bochat as an up-and-comer at the hospital. After Tammy Tiller-Hewitt assessed her potential, they were in full agreement: Tammy Windsor would become the hospital’s first physician liaison.

That was 2004. In the ensuing years, Tammy Windsor proved her worth, progressing to Vice President, Business Development at Nix, and building a stellar reputation for her performance. Today, Tammy ultimately became Regional Growth Officer, Central and Southwestern Territories for Baptist Health System, Tenet Healthcare. She has further charted her successful career path, now as Director of Marketing and Business Development for South Texas Orthopedic Specialty Group.

Tammy clearly reflects the definition of a Liaison Legend: Now in executive management, Legends have achieved roles of greater responsibility. By earning respect and exercising influence in their liaison role, they have effected positive change across many dimensions of their organizations and the industry. They elevate the profession, serve as mentors, and provide inspiration to others.

A brief interview with Tammy reveals the key to her success and valuable advice for physician liaisons at every stage of their careers.

Describe what you initially thought about the liaison role:

Given my brief tenure at the time, I was quite surprised to be selected. I’ll admit to feeling outside my comfort zone initially. But I found the intensive orientation to the role and all the hospital service lines fascinating. The training and mentoring I received was absolutely essential as a foundation.

What part of the liaison job do you love the most?

Discovering and cultivating relationships with physicians who have not worked with our health system has always been the best part of this job. When you really know the hospital’s business and strategy well, you know the value of a service line and where to look for the right opportunities that will have an impact. It may take a year to engage the top physicians, build a trusting relationship, and get the decision-makers to the table, but it will pay off.

What part do you like the least?

Logging calls. I completely understand the value of building that history. So I did it, but I never enjoyed it!

As the role of the physician liaison has evolved, what has changed

Governmental regulation is so much more complex today. Liaisons must have a very strong grasp of what is allowed and prohibited.

What skills have been most important in your development and success?

First and foremost: effective listening skills are vital. Physicians do not need just another sounding board. You have to get past your own agenda and allow the physician to get his or her message across. Listening is a learned behavior. It’s the art of peeling back the layers to understand the root cause of an issue, follow up, and communicate back. True listening leads to accountability.
Persistence is another key attribute for a liaison.  Stay engaged and build the relationship over time by delivering something of value in every encounter. Bring something to the practice to help their workflow. Offer training or education to help them adapt to changes.

What is on your professional bucket list?

I will earn my Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management. Because of my training and experience as a nurse, I “knew the language” and was familiar with hospital processes. While that has been highly valued in my liaison role, in large health systems the business degree is required in order to progress to the director level. That will support my goal to be more involved in program strategy and development, bringing ideas to fruition and making a broader positive impact on the organization and the community.

What advice would you give to your “younger self”?

Emotional intelligence is very important. You have to know your own value and worth. Don’t let other people’s opinions of you determine who you are.

What legacy would you like to leave to your successor, hospital, or community?

The lasting reputation for truth and honesty is the legacy I want to instill. Build trust and don’t be afraid to have honest – even difficult – conversations. I would hope to transfer to any successor the passion and drive that it takes to keep Baptist Health as the premier organization for doctors, patients, employees, and the community.

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

The program provided a solid foundation of structure and accountability, the framework for outside-the-box thinking, and the encouragement to go beyond your comfort zone.  Long after the contract was over, Tammy stayed in touch to check on me and my progress. She offers the connection for continued learning opportunities, keeping us educated on the changing landscape with regulatory changes, staying in touch with other liaisons, and up-to-date on the best sales strategies.

Through this program we have developed the ability to have educated and informative conversations with our physicians and deliver constant value. I’m proud to be a part of the program that elevates our profession. I have the opportunity to extend my knowledge, and to help mentor and grow future sales teams for the hospital and health systems’ ongoing success.

At times, I will ask myself: “What Would Tammy Do?”  That says a lot for the lasting value of the program.

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.