Leadership: Doing it Right with Active Listening
“To be successful, focus on a need or problem that is within your area of expertise, that you understand, and supplement your abilities with experts with complementary skills,” says Dr. Barbara Howard, President, Total Child Health, Inc. (TCH). Dr. Howard and her husband, Dr. Raymond Sturner, shared the same vision and had similar backgrounds in Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics. Their passions resulted in a powerful partnership for the company with its goals of facilitating evidence-based health and mental health care.
“I, along with my husband/partner, saw the advent of the internet nearly 2 decades ago as presenting a possible solution to several of the problems we saw in health care,” says Dr. Howard. The CHADIS system (www.CHADIS.com) we created, by collecting patient entered data online using a variety of questionnaires before visits then linking results to clinician decision support, addressed the problems of clinicians having inadequate time, knowledge and tools for evidence-based care. Through this system patients have the chance to carefully consider their concerns in advance, and prioritize them before their in-person visit and view individualized patient education and resources in their CHADIS portal. “The most memorable event in this business journey so far was finding within our hard-earned CHADIS research data on toddlers a method for autism detection using machine learning that is 3 times more accurate for 18-month-olds than any existing screening method,” says Dr. Howard.
Challenges in the Pediatrics Industry
According to Dr. Howard, one of the biggest challenges in the healthcare industry today is the enormous time burden for clinicians and staff of documentation requirements to meet regulations. To address this, Dr. Howard created CHADIS that enables patients, through pre-visit data entry, to make it easier for the clinician to provide and document comprehensive care. Digital transformation has brought a change that puts administrators and insurers in charge of the system where data and “productivity” are valued more than the quality of care. “While the internet allows for instant availability of massive amounts of data, translating this to apply to individual patients will always best be done by trained clinicians yet optimal ways to facilitate the adoption of innovations are still not clear. That is why we designed CHADIS to bring innovations and summarized information right to clinicians for direct patient care while collecting the data needed to meet regulatory requirements and reducing the burden of documentation,” says Dr. Howard.
Listening is the Key
Active listening is one of the vital traits that make Dr. Howard a strategic leader. She makes it a priority to hear the points of view of the people in all parts of the company as well as of clients and use the information to optimize the effectiveness of their CHADIS system. As a product of hard work and persistence, the company has received around 19 million dollars from Small Business Innovation Research awards over the past 17 years. CHADIS is now used by over 135,000 patients per month in 44 states and 10 countries and has been profitable for the past 3 years.
Wrapping it up,
According to Dr. Howard, failures are inevitable when you are innovating. Progress towards solutions will have ups and downs therefore problem-solving should be the priority. “Fear can inhibit good problem solving and instead needs to be a signal to re-examine your ideas and plans rather than stop,” says Dr. Howard.