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

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media , December 13, 2012

"We did the research for patients and we asked what sort of funding programs they could be eligible for," Sevenikar says. "When they came into our emergency rooms, we gave them the information and application and everything they needed to apply for funding, so they can move forward with some kind of assistance."

That focus paid off, Sevenikar says. Within the first two years, payment collections increased 6.5% and 4.4%, Sevenikar says. "We're getting more cash back from our patients, but the better news is that we're getting letters from our patients saying how much they appreciate this," she says.

While Sevenikar already has faced some tough economic hurdles, more financial cutbacks loom. Healthcare reform offers more challenges, including anticipated increases in the uninsured population, Sevenikar adds. For the most part, Sevenikar says, technology will be of overwhelming importance as hospitals confront any potential problems.

"We are moving toward stronger automation, that's what I tell my employees," Sevenikar says. "I tell them embrace technology, become an expert at it, and become invaluable to the organization."

More and more, though, she's knows that patient satisfaction is a crucial element of what she does. "When you are thinking about patient billing and collections, the bottom line is, 'Are you doing the right thing?' "

Joe Cantlupe is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media Online.
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