HL20: Gerilynn Sevenikar—Helping Patients Navigate the High Cost of Care
In our annual HealthLeaders 20, we profile individuals who are changing healthcare for the better. Some are longtime industry fixtures; others would clearly be considered outsiders. Some are revered; others would not win many popularity contests. All of them are playing a crucial role in making the healthcare industry better. This is the story of Gerilynn Sevenikar.
This profile was published in the December, 2012 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.
"We're getting more cash back from our patients, but the better news we're getting letters from our patients saying how much they appreciate this."
Gerilynn Sevenikar, vice president of patient financial services for the 2,092-licensed-bed Sharp HealthCare System in San Diego sees herself as upbeat, but her optimism was surely tested in 2009. The balance sheets weren't looking good: Collections from the uninsured population were decreasing, while unemployment was increasing in San Diego County. There was so much uncertainty it would not have been surprising if Sevenikar may have wondered if should have chased her early dreams of becoming an airline pilot. Instead, she was juggling so many things as a financial leader at Sharp it was not unlike being an air traffic controller.
Indeed, back in the 1970s, when she started her career at Sharp, she had been thinking of becoming an airline pilot, and in fact, has a pilot's license. Those vocational plans changed, however, as work at Sharp became more fulfilling, and certainly challenging.
When the fiscal climate appeared dire a few years ago, Sevenikar found ways to help the uninsured, or self-pay patient population gain federal or state funding, and also opened the door for Sharp to obtain millions of dollars in payments it would not otherwise obtain. She also has tried to make the bureaucratic process more manageable for patients and more efficient for providers.