Becker's 11th Annual Meeting: 3 Questions with Stephanie Stovall, Medical Director of Pediatric Infection Prevention/Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases at Golisano Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida for Lee Health

Stephanie Stovall, MD, FAAP, serves as Medical Director of Pediatric Infection Prevention/Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases at Golisano Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida for Lee Health.

On April 8th, Dr. Stovall will give a presentation on "Administrators and Physicians: Synergism or Antagonism" at Becker's Hospital Review 11th Annual Meeting. As part of an ongoing series, Becker's is talking to healthcare leaders who plan to speak at the conference, which will take place on April 6-9, 2020 in Chicago.

To learn more about the conference and Dr. Stovall's session, click here.

Question: How can hospitals reconcile the need to maintain inpatient volumes with the mission to keep people healthier and out of the hospital?

Stephanie Stovall: There is no shortage of people with needs even though we can achieve more medical services today outside the hospital than in the past. Hospitals, healthcare systems and physicians are challenged with providing value to patients and while achieving economic targets; they must learn to shift the focus from specific numbers to providing comprehensive care that is focused on the patient. Providing that value as a whole – realizing the give and take in different departments or locations - is best for patients even if the bottom line in one area shifts up while another shifts down.

Q: What's one lesson you learned early in your career that has helped you lead in healthcare?

SS: Because I’m a doctor first and a leader second, I approach leadership in healthcare the same way I approach my practice of medicine. A mentor early in my career reminded me frequently of the oft quoted adage “give a man a fish and feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. In medicine, I learned knowledge is just a small part of my contribution to the medical care of my patients and their families. Many times, I could just come in, make a decision, tell them what to do and move on; that “feeds them for the day” but leaves them “hungry” when the next complication arises. They need someone to advocate for them, explain to them and walk alongside them through difficult decision making. The true connection – discussing their fears, complaints and empathizing with them – is how we partner with them to improve healthcare. Likewise, in leadership, I may “know” where we need to go, but there is little value in showing the team that information. The value comes from partnering with the team, encouraging their individual and corporate growth so that as a group we improve the processes with a shared vision.

Q: Where do you go for inspiration and fresh ideas?

SS: The best ideas I have found come from investing time evaluating problems or barriers in patient care. Doing this with a team who shares the same vision is a requirement because I simply cannot know all the moving parts when evaluating a problem. Once we are able to dissect the “why” behind a problem (usually with a team), we uncover barriers that need solutions. Seeing those barriers as opportunities to prevent recurrence of the problem inspires the team to fix the “why”.

"What's one lesson you learned early in your career that has helped you lead in healthcare?
The greatest lessons I learned in healthcare were three things on my first day of medical school: “listen to your patients they will tell you what is wrong, don’t be over-enamored with technology, and give every patient something for their time of need”. More true today!

What do you see as the most exciting opportunity in healthcare right now?
With society’s obsession with technology, now is the time to harness cutting edge technology to facilitate the human interaction, not replace it.

Healthcare has had calls for disruption, innovation and transformation for years now. Do you feel we are seeing that change? Why or why not?
As the saying goes, “One person’s innovation is another person’s disruption”. Transformation may be the most over-used word in healthcare today. True transformation (dramatic change) will come from a grass roots movement (outside the corporate walls) and led by synthetical thinkers who by doing what is best for patients will find it is best for business."

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