South Florida Hospital News
Monday August 19, 2019
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September 2017 - Volume 14 - Issue 3

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FIU Health Informatics Alumna Uses Data, Analytics to Ensure Solutions for Students

Florida International University’s Health Informatics and Analytics master’s program, while fairly new, graduated its first cohort in 2013. That said, several alumni including Frances Allegra have already embarked upon impressive work in the field. 

Allegra, who graduated in 2016, spent 23 years working in child welfare and education. An attorney, licensed to work in Florida state and federal courts, she decided to pursue a Master of Science in Health Informatics and Analytics at FIU to expand her work in healthcare and population health.
 
“I chose the Health Informatics program because I wanted to differentiate myself and I wanted more specialized, specific knowledge that would be helpful years from now,” Allegra said. “I had done some work with FIU’s Health Informatics team a few years ago relating to population health, social determinants of health and predictive analytics. It was such a great experience that it whet my appetite to learn more.”
 
Toward the end of her time in the program, Allegra became Senior Vice President of Healthcare Expansion Services at Wentworth Hampshire, a parent company of several wholly-owned subsidiaries dedicated to improving the lives of vulnerable students and their families. The primary subsidiary, MCUSA Healthcare, also known as Motivational Coaches of America, is the largest school-based behavioral health initiative in the country, providing individualized solutions focused on a child’s well-being. MCUSA allows schools to create a safer and more productive academic environment through economically sound and sustainable avenues.
 
“MCUSA’s goal is to motivate children through improved self-esteem and self-actualization that results in academic success through improved school attendance, reduced disciplinary referrals, improved academic achievement and increased school connectedness,” Allegra elaborated.
 
Allegra notes that MCUSA ensures that all children within a school are reached.
 
“We understand that a mental health crisis can hit any child, regardless of age or socio-economic status,” she said. “Our school-based model allows us to more easily identify early-warning indicators, giving us the opportunity to provide preventative behavioral health and wellness services to children who may be dealing with unique circumstances in or outside the home.”
 
Wentworth Hampshire looks to grow the reach of MCUSA by harvesting a deep understanding of health informatics, data analytics, and social determinants of health. Allegra focuses, in part, on both statewide and national expansion.
 
“Understanding CMS [the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] policy as it pertains to behavioral health, primary and preventative care is key,” Allegra explained. “I have been able to leverage relationships with educational leaders and policy makers at the national and state level, bringing our business model of health innovation into schools where it is acutely needed.”
 
Wentworth Hampshire, a data driven organization, recently partnered with a data analytics group to help build real-time dashboards relating to key performance measures. Allegra, in turn, draws upon health informatics and analytics skills and techniques on a daily basis. As a leader, she finds helping others adopt and embrace the use of data crucial to success.
 
Allegra thinks back on her time in FIU’s Health Informatics and Analytics program when discussing the importance of what she learned.
 
“Some of the most challenging courses I remember taking are the ones that had the most impact on me, like statistics, database management, project management and data visualization,” she said. “As a lawyer, I enjoyed the refresher on health law and the introductory courses pertaining to policy. These provided the most important context.”
 
When not busy making sure students across the nation have the most productive and successful educational experiences possible, Allegra enjoys every moment of raising a first grader, as well as planning and taking trips to Walt Disney World and Kidz Bop concerts.

For more information about FIU’s Master of Science in Health Informatics and Analytics, visit healthinformatics.fiu.edu, or contact Roberto Garcia at mshia@fiu.edu and (305) 348-4347.

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