HL20: Gerilynn Sevenikar—Helping Patients Navigate the High Cost of Care

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media , December 13, 2012

One of the key actions that Sevenikar took was helping Sharp team up with Foundation for Health Coverage Education, a San Jose, Calif.–based nonprofit that assists in helping people understand their healthcare eligibility status. Under the collaboration, Sharp initiated the FHCE's eligibility quiz (www.CoverageForAll.org) into the emergency department registration process to reduce the numbers of self-pay patients by finding public and private health insurance eligibility information to help them access to coverage. The effort has resulted in helping more than 32,000 self-pay patients "navigate through a maze" of government health coverage programs, Sevenikar says. Over three years that Sharp has partnered with FHCE and through other internal initiatives, it's recovered $4.7 million in revenue, according to Sevenikar.

As she wades through paperwork and balances the needs of patients and demands of the hospital system, Sevenikar says she understands providers must be tough yet sensitive while seeking payments. Along the way, patients have sent her heart-felt emails expressing "thanks," and some surprised her.

Sevenikar recounted the story of a patient lacking insurance who wondered the kind of reception she would receive at the hospital. Sevenikar and her staff made her feel comfortable. "Upon arrival I was so afraid I would not be seen because I was uninsured; not only was I not turned away, I wasn't treated differently than anyone else," the woman wrote to Sevenikar. "Everyone in the department was very nice, and skilled at their profession."

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