Whenever Apryle Swain talks about someone from work, her husband laughs, because regardless of if he’s heard of the colleague, Swain will introduce them in a very similar way. “They’re amazing,” Swain will begin. “They’re passionate about their job, but more than that, they’re just an incredible person.”
Her husband has lost count of the glowing reviews with which his better half has lauded her colleagues at Indiana University Health (IU Health), but Swain herself will never not be grateful for the team that surrounds her. It’s evident in how the associate general counsel and director of legal collections talks about her job, the vital difference it’s provided her in her career, and the role it played in helping her not give up on her calling.
Before getting into the specifics of Swain’s role over the past ten years at IU Health and the change she’s helped the organization incur on behalf of its patients and providers, it’s vital to point out that the attorney almost walked away from law entirely.
Early on out of law school, Swain found herself engaged in regular lawsuits as a collections attorney. It’s a hard role for anyone, and Swain found herself changing in ways that unnerved her.
“I knew I had to leave because I got to the point where I felt like my empathy scale was getting tilted in the wrong direction,” Swain explains. “In no uncertain terms, it was a crisis point for me in my career. I didn’t want to be going after patients for bills anymore.”
For a short time, Swain opted out entirely, working as a preschool teacher and trying to understand where she belonged as a lawyer, or if law was really the right career for her at all. When she found her way back to practicing, she came across a seasoned attorney who wanted a mentee.
“Before that, I had been sort of flailing on my own,” Swain remembers. “It was lonely and discouraging. But this was an opportunity to be a sponge and do a variety of work that felt so much more meaningful to me.”
In that short period of time at her new firm, Swain represented IU Health, Indiana’s largest health system, which was looking to bring some talent in-house. This coincided with Swain’s maternity leave, but the fact that IU Health was willing to leave the available position unfulfilled until Swain’s return was an encouraging sign—one that would pave the way for the next ten years at her dream job.
The associate general counsel has earned her reputation for building high-performing teams within IU Health, the latest and greatest being the risk team she’s assembled that works arm-in-arm with the compliance and operations team to ensure that potential issues are resolved before they have the opportunity to become real problems.
“The risk team goes in to find the root cause of issues and prevent them from happening again,” Swain explains. “We maintain a risk database that we use to look at trends and do our regulatory assessment on what needs to be done, or if anything needs to be done.”
In this role, Swain says she relishes the opportunity to partner with subject-matter experts to identify those root-cause issues that can be rectified through collaboration and strategy. This risk team operates far outside of the narrow purview a lot of in-house risk teams might be comfortable with, but Swain says it’s to help the compliance and operations team feel supported and backed across the board.
“Our job isn’t to say no and that we can’t move ahead,” Swain says. “[Revenue cycle] needs us to figure these things out and be there for them. We help write a lot of policy and spearhead those to get where we need to be. We meet regularly to ensure that we’re always on the same page, and I think it’s helped establish us as a resource, a knowledge base, and a supportive team for the rest of the organization.”
And Swain says that support goes both ways. She credits current Senior Vice President and CFO Jennifer Alvey—whom she describes as “one of the neatest people on earth and an amazing leader and lawyer”—with providing the kind of executive mentorship that has helped Swain become a better in-house professional.
Empathy and compassion, however, are not skills that Swain needed to hone. Her kids might tease her for calling IU Health “her” hospital, but Swain feels a connection to IU Health in a way that many people dream of being able to connect to their day jobs.
But that connection isn’t always sunny.
Swain lost one of her sisters to breast cancer and will never forget the treatment and kindness she received from IU Health during the process. Her sister was able to live seven years after being diagnosed with stage-four breast cancer, and Swain credits that to the amazing doctors within her health system.
“I know the difference IU Health can make in people’s lives, because they’ve made it in my own,” Swain says. “I truly believe that what I am doing helps make that difference, and, gosh, that feels good.”
Congratulations, Apryle, on all your success! Harris & Harris is proud to be a trusted partner and resource for IU Health.
Harris & Harris is a national leader in account receivables and revenue recovery for the healthcare industry. Since 1968, our solutions have been customized to meet the needs of our clients, their patients, and the communities we do business in. Throughout the industry’s many changes and challenges, Harris & Harris has remained focused on providing our partners with an elevated standard of service. Investing significantly in each part of our operations has ensured superior performance and created notable differentiators in comparison to similar agencies. harriscollect.com