As a part of our People of AKASA series, we’re interviewing the folks behind the brand. From engineering to revenue cycle operations to customer success to culture, here are the people building the future of healthcare with AI.
Today, meet Sherraine McDaniel (she/her), a revenue cycle analyst, and learn how she went from the Big Ten to machine learning. And connect with Sherraine on LinkedIn.
1. What’s your job at AKASA?
I’m a revenue cycle analyst, and I work with machine learning to process billing claims for our healthcare clients. A lot of what I do is around training the technology and building its confidence, so it can learn to operate on its own.
It’s also important to understand what each customer is looking for and how to handle the different payors and situations that occur. I have to understand how the AI is performing searches and what to do when outliers come up.
2. Where did you work before coming to AKASA?
I was in college athletics, working with the NCAA for more than a decade. I was a sprinter in college (specializing in the 200 and the 400 meters), and my career really grew out of that experience as a student-athlete.
I graduated from San Diego State and started my career in athletics compliance there and expanded in the role over the past ten years. I went on to work for the Big Ten Conference, the University of Oklahoma, Michigan State, and Grand Canyon University.
The public perception of NCAA compliance is the police of the athletic department. The position is generally known when an athletic department is in trouble. However, there was so much more in the role: creating educational programming and developing relationships with stakeholders, along with the compliance and auditing of NCAA and institutional rules and regulation, to name a few.
When I was ready to transition out of higher ed and athletics, I thought about how to tell my story. I had developed a lot of other skills — from marketing and communication to development and fundraising. In the end, I realized that I’m a project manager because that’s what the position really entails and where I excel.
3. Why did you join AKASA?
I was looking for something different. One of my college friends, Larnie Boyd, had just celebrated her one-year anniversary at AKASA in the revenue cycle operations team. She knew that I had completed my master’s in business analytics and was looking for something in that field. She loves AKASA and spoke so highly of the culture.
Larnie and Sherraine enjoying a working lunch
Culture is extremely important for me. For me to truly enjoy the work, and find it meaningful, it’s more about who I’m working with. So that was the big pull. There’s an openness here at AKASA that is so wonderful — everyone’s voice is heard.
I also really like the fact that there’s so much learning, so much growing, here at AKASA. Because it’s a startup, things are always changing, with lots of innovation, so there are constant opportunities to grow and learn. That growth has spoken to me. Learning for me is important and the biggest pull to AKASA.
I actually started at AKASA as a contractor. My manager saw the value I was bringing to the team and worked with HR to make me full-time. The team created a training plan to assist in my revenue cycle knowledge, as I had no experience in the healthcare field. That type of support is so incredibly valuable.
4. Why is learning so important to you?
Education, in general, is very important to me. I did my master’s in education at Oklahoma, earned my MBA, and also got my master’s degree in business analytics. Working for universities gave me the opportunity to pursue advanced degrees, so I took advantage of all the doors that opened. I also didn’t pay for any of my degrees, so not only am I well educated, but I found methods to ensure I didn’t take on the financial burden. Also, the root cause, I am a black woman and I wanted to remove any obstacles from myself or any social limitations placed on me before I step foot into a door. If my experience is not enough, well I have my education to complement it.
The analytics degree really works well with my thought process. Even in my job in higher education, we were doing so much manual input that we learned ways to make it more efficient. I started to see how I could apply some of the analytical tools to work smarter and not harder.
A business analytics degree helps you see how things are written from a coding standpoint. A lot of times this helps improve our AI’s intelligence. I’m working to grow and utilize that skill here at AKASA.
5. Where are you living and working these days?
Most of my family is from Jamaica. I grew up in Toronto, where my immediate family lives. I came to the US on a track and field scholarship and never looked back.
I currently live with my husband in Phoenix and I work from my home office.
6. If you could do any other job, just for one day, what would it be?
An astronaut. You would have to develop multiple skills, with lots of technical proficiencies. You would also have to have some form of creative side to be in space — to see the world through a different lens, to see a universe beyond our own.
7. What AKASA value is the most meaningful to you?
Empower Yourself and Others.
This incorporates our other values and is the foundation of our values. It’s our root. How does a tree grow without roots? Empathy, bravery, trust, and excellence to me comes when you empower yourself and others around you to be the best version of themselves. As you empower people, the other values will only get stronger over time.
8. What was the last book you read?
9. What’s one word you would use to describe AKASA
When you look at the way that we’re set up, you have to be. AKASA employees are literally all over the country. How do you develop an environment where you’re physically distanced, but not secluded? I think we’ve been very successful at it.
One of our key people for this is Kimberly Shrum, an executive assistant. She does a great job of making sure that we celebrate both the little things and the big things. We have a “yay” channel on Slack for celebrating each other’s successes. As physically remote as we are, there’s still that inclusive piece that unites everyone.
10. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Wings. Medium spicy or even jerk. I like to keep it simple with the sauce. And, most of the time, I’ll leave the carrots and celery.