Shelly Crunk gravitates to conflict, but the kindness in her voice makes it instantly clear that it’s not because she has a penchant for the dramatic. The vice president of revenue cycle at Kettering Health finds herself drawn to situations where two otherwise reasonable parties seem unable to find common ground.
“So often it’s about people struggling to find a connection point for communication,” Crunk says. “That challenge excites me. So much of what motivates me comes back to genuinely being able to help people.”
Throughout the course of an hour, Crunk comes back to this point: the true joy she gets from being of service to others. She says it may sound cliché or trite, but it’s the drive that’s literally kept her from accepting chief financial officer roles. She feels like she has more of an opportunity to serve leaders and team members from the revenue cycle; and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who believes in that mission as fervently as Crunk.
Her passion for healthcare might as well be embedded in her DNA. “My whole family is in healthcare,” Crunk says, laughing. “My mom and my brother are CFOs, and my dad is a nurse who now owns a dialysis company. We talk about work all the time. . . . But we love to collaborate. I’ve thrown so many crazy-edge ideas at them and their job is to tell me what won’t work before I humiliate myself at my own organization.”
A desire to try something new is precisely what makes Crunk great. Her self-described wild ideas are undergirded by her hope to make life better for her colleagues, her teammates, and, especially, her patients.
“Revenue cycle is obviously all about collections. But in everything I do, it really comes back to patient advocacy,” Crunk explains. “I feel like sometimes people don’t realize just how important that component should be to the revenue cycle process. We owe it to our patients to provide a clean, accurate, and timely medical record. I love any time I can help put in place a program that can make help identify potential coverage that a patient didn’t know they had or create a payment program for people who are going through a difficult time.”
Crunk also helped Kettering drastically drive down its annual denial write-offs. When she took her job in 2019, denials hovered around 3 percent. Now, they are closer to 1.5 percent. Not only has this affected Kettering’s bottom line, but it has helped create a more transparent and collaborative reputation for the revenue cycle team across the entire organization.
As much as she loves to get into the weeds of the revenue cycle, perhaps Crunk’s greatest passion point is for talent development. She loves identifying skills and talents and helping chart a course for the future. It comes back to the love of understanding people and their motivations as well as helping eliminate barriers and create more opportunities for her team members’ career journeys.
“You want to grow? You want to get promoted? Work yourself out of your own job. That is what I’m always trying to do,” Crunk says.
It’s the embodiment of servant leadership. Crunk doesn’t want her team to need her because she aspires to create the next generation of leaders who will continue to challenge the status quo, regardless of their titles.
At Kettering, Crunk repeatedly has restructured roles and hierarchies to ensure that roles aren’t just being filled because a person has left the position. “I always challenge our team to stop and think about what we’re going to need next,” she says. “It better aligns accountability, responsibilities, and is critical for long-term success.”
Crunk admits her passion for development has kept her from accepting other roles which might account for a bump in pay or fancier title. Neither of those can compete with the fulfillment she gets from helping others flourish. “If I didn’t have leaders and teams to support, I just know I wouldn’t be as fulfilled,” the VP explains. “I don’t know if I’m a subject-matter expert in anything, but people are my passion.”