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Sarah Thomas, General Counsel at Sameday Health

Sarah Thomas, General Counsel at Sameday Health

August 18, 2022

Tell us how you got into, and what you love the most about your legal career in healthcare? As the daughter of two physicians, I swore that I wouldn’t go into healthcare… famous last words. I started my career in litigation working with a lot of medicine and medical records. There, I realized how much I enjoyed diving into the healthcare element of the cases. In 2012, I joined a national public healthcare company where I had the opportunity to work closely with operations teams, providing direct patient care nationwide while also discovering my healthcare niche. I loved how my work was a combination of patient-centric care, provider support, and corporate risk mitigation. As my career has grown, so has my involvement across departments. I think it’s so amazing that my job allows me to continue learning and expanding my skills.  

What are some trends you see emerging in your specific area of the healthcare industry in the next five years? Removing barriers to care. If you look at the up-and-coming entities in the healthcare landscape, nearly all of the goals focus on meeting patients where they are, streamlining their access to the care they need, and removing systemic blockers in the healthcare system. Unfortunately, the traditional healthcare structure isn’t built to support this sort of integration and new ideas. I’ve noticed that employers – particularly those who are self-insured – are pressing the establishment to make changes and support their employees in new ways.

How has your role as a lawyer in healthcare changed in recent years? Healthcare hasn’t changed with the times. So, a good portion of my job includes trying to explain to traditional payors how the new way services align with their goals and why it adds value for both them and the shared patient. I’m learning to speak the payor language and communicate with the business side of healthcare, rather than solely focusing on the regulatory and typical legal work.

What are the top three attributes that you look for when you hire?

  1. I hire for team fit above all else. Each team must have a wide variety of personalities and strengths in order to be successful. Some individuals are best suited for forward-facing roles, while others work best behind the scenes. Having the right mix ensures team cohesion.
  2. Passion. It doesn’t have to be work, but I want to see a candidate light up when they talk about some aspect of their life.
  3. Given that my work has been focused on startups as of late, I look for people who have diverse work backgrounds. Having different experiences shows me that they are excited to learn new things and jump in on a wide variety of tasks, which is necessary for smaller legal and compliance teams.

If you could go back and give advice to your newly graduated self, what advice would you give? Trust the process – you’ll find the right place and type of law. On my first day of law school orientation, we were told that most attorneys change their area focus five times throughout their careers. What you start out doing doesn’t have to be your final place, and find what makes you excited to get out of bed each morning. I learned in my third job that access to care is my passion and what drives me every day.

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