As Stephanie Schnittger understands, it takes more than a command of numbers to help lead a major health system’s finance department.
The senior vice president of finance for Inova Health System began her career as an auditor for Ernst & Young LLP before joining Inova as its senior director of finance in 1997. Over the course of more than twenty years with the company, Schnittger worked her way through the ranks before assuming her current position in January 2018.
In that time, Schnittger has developed a holistic approach to managing her team that goes beyond simply looking at the company’s ledger.
“I think one of the things that make Stephanie stand out is that she has all of the accounting and financial chops, but she also really understands the operations of finance,” says Todd Stottlemyer, Inova’s former executive vice president and CEO of the Inova Center for Personalized Health. “Also, importantly, she understands policy and healthcare’s regulatory framework. So, I think she brings a multifaceted perspective to anything she is involved in.”
Between 2015 and 2018, Schnittger and Stottlemyer worked closely together on the strategy surrounding the Inova Schar Cancer Institute. The Center is scheduled to open in the spring of 2019, and it will offer patients services such as imaging, proton therapy, oncology infusion, and more.
The project required Schnittger to leverage her financial, operational, and regulatory expertise as she helped develop a profitable, long-term business strategy for running the cancer center, while balancing that with tactical regulatory issues such as how changes in 340(b) pricing and reimbursement could impact the plan’s long-term viability.
In addition, throughout this process, Schnittger’s creative problem-solving tactics were essential to overcoming obstacles and delivering solutions that satisfied all stakeholders in the enormous project. This was particularly evident in developing the design for the future center’s cancer programs.
“A number of people wanted to go in a certain direction during this project, but they were not aware of some of the business and financial challenges associated with that approach,” says Richard Magenheimer, Inova’s CFO. “Stephanie felt that we should go in a different direction, and met with these folks numerous times and got them to come around to her solution. Not only that, they became active supporters of her approach.”
Her collaborative style and willingness to challenge common wisdom have become hallmarks of Schnittger’s leadership approach to those who have worked with her.
“She brings a high level of courage to the table,” Magenheimer says. “Where other people might be hesitant to voice an opinion that differs from the boss, she’s very capable of holding her ground and articulating an alternative way of doing things. Good leaders admire that, and weak leaders are sometimes taken aback by that, but it’s something that I admire very much about her.”
Schnittger’s broad knowledge base, intense focus, and ability to multitask have allowed her to effortlessly handle a wide variety of responsibilities for Inova while also devoting time to her family.
“I think she’s incredibly productive with her time,” Magenheimer says. “Even while she’s commuting, she is actively involved in work-related matters. I see her accomplish things in a much shorter timeframe than what other people are able to do.”
Above all, Schnittger’s focus, collaboration, and expert decision-making are in the service of a greater mission, her colleagues say.
“I think she’s very committed to the mission of what we do in healthcare,” Stottlemyer says. “Oftentimes, it can be about balance sheets and income statements and cash flow statements, but I’ve also appreciated that she’s committed to Inova’s business of improving the human condition and to care for people.”
A Rollercoaster Ride in Healthcare
Stephanie Schnittger’s connection to major healthcare developments extends beyond her work at Inova. While her husband was working on Capitol Hill for then-minority leader—and future speaker of the house— John Boehner during the debate over the Affordable Care Act, Schnittger and her children were attending an event near Disney World. The debate in Washington DC prevented Boehner and Schnittger’s husband from attending the function as planned. Because she was pregnant with her fourth child at the time, Schnittger was unable to ride any of the rides, so her kids rode alongside Boehner’s wife, Debbie, and another colleague. “We have been living healthcare personally, politically, and professionally over the past many years,” Schnittger says.
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