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Peoria native Tony Schierbeck has worked at Methodist Medical Center for nearly two decades. His degree in mass communications from the School of Communication and Fine Arts at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale led him into the field of sales and marketing, and eventually to Methodist. Schierbeck began his career at the hospital as Director of Occupational Medical Services and Wellness Center, and he has held administrative positions ever since.

Schierbeck serves on the board for the Bradley University Chiefs Club, as a commissioner of Renaissance Park and as a member of the Renaissance Park Marketing Committee. He is a member of the Peoria Area Labor Management Advisory Council and the American College of Healthcare Executives. When away from the office, Schierbeck enjoys spending time with his wife and three children. He treasures time on sunny beaches and will especially appreciate them after this year’s long winter!

Briefly summarize your background.

I began my relationship with Methodist when I was born there 49 years ago! Professionally, I started my career 18 years ago. There has been a lot of family involvement at Methodist because my mom, wife and mother-in-law all worked there, and my father is still a volunteer at Methodist.

I graduated from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale with a Bachelor of Science degree, specializing in mass communications, which led to sales and marketing.

How did you become interested in the field of healthcare?

I was recruited by a firm and secured the position of director of the Austin Occupational Health Center in Austin, Texas. I worked closely with Dr. “Bud” Dryden, who was the medical director of the practice and taught me a lot about the value of working in the medical field.

I moved back home in 1990 with my wife, Deb, and our three children, Megan, Amanda and Jason, when I was hired as the director of occupational health and wellness at Methodist.

Please describe your current duties and responsibilities as Vice President of Business Development for Methodist Medical Center.

My primary responsibility at Methodist is to maintain and secure managed care contracts locally and regionally with employers, preferred provider organizations and insurance carriers. I also communicate daily with third-party administrators, insurance brokers and providers. We are in a very competitive market, within a very competitive field. Building and maintaining relationships with our current customers, as well as non-customers, is key to our success of delivering quality healthcare.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? The most difficult?

The most rewarding aspect of my job is working for an organization in which I have many friendships. We have many strategies that have proven to be successful after careful planning and implementation. The fact that our managed care strategy is working by adding covered lives to our system is one of them. Capturing and keeping managed care contracts is a challenge, but when you are backed by an organization with employees providing friendly, high-quality care, it makes it rewarding.

Our commitment to quality care is demonstrated by the fact that we are a Magnet hospital for nursing excellence, and in 2007, we applied for the Malcolm Baldrige Award, achieving a top 12 overall score in the healthcare category in the U.S. We’re applying for the Baldrige award again this year as part of our commitment to performance excellence.

Can you tell us more about the planned expansion and modernization project for Methodist Medical Center?

To prepare for the future, Methodist will soon begin our main campus replacement. The first phase will include a new diagnostic and bed tower, housing 180 acute care beds, all diagnostic services, a heartcare center, a new surgical department, emergency department and parking deck. A new dining, conference and administration building will also be added. The first phase of the project will begin this year, with projected completion in 2012. We are also launching a major strategic initiative on Peoria’s north side, building a state-of-the-art outpatient diagnostic and physician office plaza at Allen Road and Route 6.

What are some of the major changes you’ve noticed in the healthcare field since you began your career?

Advances in medical technology and information technology are two of the most significant changes I have seen. Although technology is extremely important in healthcare today, the most important element is still the medical staff caring for people and helping with the healing process.

What are some of the latest tools and technologies being employed at Methodist?

We have a new vision at Methodist: “Taking You Well Into the Future.” This vision is part of our transition from a hospital-centric system, to a healthy person-centric system. In addition to providing many wellness and preventative services, we have resources to help us achieve this goal. We have integrated information technology into clinical care. Advances such as Electronic Medical Record throughout our organization, Patient Folder (a patient’s electronic chart) and My Methodist eHealth—a patient portal and personal health record that lets you access your vital health information anytime, anywhere—will help us achieve our new vision. These are but a few of the new technologies we employ. Go to our website, MyMethodist.net, to learn more.

What are some of the latest trends regarding physicians maintaining private practices vs. working for a hospital?

For many years, Methodist has employed both primary care and specialty physicians, and we have a large network of employed physicians through the Methodist Medical Group (MMG). I would expect that trend to continue in the future.

Tell us about the current state of competition among insurance companies to become PPOs. What trends do you notice? What about HMOs in central Illinois?

For many years, self-funding has been the dominant financial mechanism for employer-sponsored health benefits. Although there are still a large number of self-funded employers locally—which has been rather unique to this area—there is now a trend toward small, medium and some larger employers selecting fully insured products. I believe you will see a greater emphasis on HMOs throughout central Illinois, as those insurance products offer a wide variety of wellness programs, have a large number of providers participating in the plans and are financially competitive.

With this years presidential campaign heating up, the topic of universal heatlh care has been near the top of the list. Are you hopeful that the next president will be able to initiate coverage for all Americans?

It would be great if there was healthcare insurance coverage for everyone through one mechanism. Today, however, that is unrealistic in my opinion. The main issue is who will pay for healthcare and the associated insurance. Who will take the financial risk? First and foremost, there’s an individual responsibility to take care of yourself. If you never check the oil in your car or provide basic maintenance, eventually you’ll have problems. People are the same way. Think of it like this: there are many options for managing costs, such as health savings accounts, high deductible plans, employee medical expense reimbursement programs, individual medical plans, higher deductibles for employees who do not comply with wellness programs and others. But ultimately, lower costs will be the byproduct of a healthy lifestyle and effective risk management.

Talk about your involvement with the Peoria Area Labor Management Advisory Council, as well as your involvement with other professional and not-for-profit organizations.

I have been involved with Peoria Area Labor Management (PALM) since 1992, as Methodist has been a participating provider in those plans. When State Senator Dave Koehler started PALM, it was a great way to have labor and management work together to hold costs down through group-purchased healthcare.

I currently serve on the board of directors for the Bradley Braves Club, as a commissioner of Renaissance Park and as a member of the Renaissance Park Marketing Committee. I am a member of Health Insurance Underwriters and the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Where in the community do you find inspiration? What person or persons have most inspired you? What factors do you feel have contributed most to your success?

Peoria is a great community in which one can raise a family, have a rewarding career and have some fun all at the same time. Family and friendships are very important to me. The people in my life who I care about, and those who care about me, are what make my day.

Those who have inspired me professionally throughout my career are my dad, father-in-law, and Dr. Dryden. When I first began my career, these three guys gave me the “road maps” in different ways. My dad, who was in the automobile business until retiring, taught me to build strong relationships in business, do the best you can to provide great service and they will stay with you as customers. My father-in-law, Val Fuger, an architect until he passed away last year, was very logical and focused in his professional life. He instilled in me the notion that once you start a project professionally, focus on it, get the help you need, and complete it within the time you promised your customer. Dr. Dryden’s generous and often uncompensated care for Austin’s minority community made him a namesake in Austin, Texas. To him, it was all about doing what you think is right and carrying through with it. Most importantly, he was a good friend and a high-quality and very caring physician.

How do you balance a demanding job with home life and leisure activities? What types of activities do you enjoy when you are not at work?

I enjoy exercising, golfing, bowling in a league, attending sporting events and socializing with good friends. Home offers fun and a sense of security with family. That is changing with two of our daughters, Megan and Amanda, in college, and our son, Jason, a senior in high school who will graduate soon.

What aspects of living and working in central Illinois are most attractive to you?

Professionally, central Illinois offers a great healthcare system with many challenges and opportunities for growth. Peoria’s my hometown; my “roots” are here. There are plenty of fun activities to participate in with lots of fun people! When we want a quick getaway, we usually head to Chicago.

What would you like our readers to know that has not been asked?

Most people who have contact with me appreciate my sense of humor. It’s a strength that tends to develop or further develop relationships, both personally and professionally. My favorite vacations are on the beach, any beach where it’s 80+ degrees and sunny, especially after this past winter. IBI

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