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Where are They Now? Herlende St. Phard

Herlende Saint-Phard has learned a great deal of information about the medical field as a result of her job as a business analyst for a health insurance company.

Her duties include working with the IT department to implement system changes or modification for the company’s health plan sites. She acts as a point of contact for system issues, network failures, and site support. It’s up to her to provide weekly reports for tracking all system issues across departments, run query scripts to generate reports, such as member out of pocket reports, using SQL (Standard Query Language). But that’s not all.

“I manage 56 health plan sites by providing user access, system templates and system enhancements,” she said. “I research claims that are denied or pended due to CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) guidelines or contract benefits. I review system logic, adjudication logic, and system pricing for our claims.”

The list seems exhaustive – and exhausting – but Herlende projects enthusiasm and pride when talking about her work.

She’s enthusiastic because she believes that her field, health informatics, is “challenging the health industry with new ways of implementing technology to deliver and improve a more efficient way for healthcare,” she said.

Herlende is proud because she achieved her goal of securing a position in the medical field, after achieving an earlier goal of earning her Master of Science in Health Informatics from USF Health’s Morsani College of Medicine.

Besides the academic challenge of earning an advanced degree from one of the nation’s top universities, Herlende had the added responsibilities of single-parenthood and a full-time job in the financial industry.

“It was certainly tough to juggle single motherhood and being a full-time student,” Herlende said. But, she acknowledges, “My daughter (Ami-el) is my biggest motivating factor to succeed in life. I am inspired by my need to leave the world a better place for her.”

Herlende believes strongly in health informatics’ ability to make healthcare better.

“Health informatics is taking information technology, communication and patient care to the next level,” Herlende says. Her degree gives her the ability to help healthcare “embrace the new wave of technological advances that is greatly needed in the medical industry.”

Herlende’s post-graduation search for a job in the field included career fairs and online searches through sites such as Monster, Indeed and LinkedIn. Her position, however, came about through networking.

“My friend introduced me to her husband who worked for a company that was affiliated with the company that I worked for,” Herlende said. “He was able to submit my resume around and then within about two weeks I got an interview. The process to get hired took about three weeks.”

With the benefit of hindsight, Herlende recommends health IT students take a slightly different track than hers.

Herlende encourages students to consider earning the Graduate Certificate in Health Informatics “because it gives you an entry path into Health informatics and you can use it to start looking for a career right away,” she said.

“Especially if you plan on completing the Master’s in Health Informatics program, it’s good to have some type of credentials while you are completing the program,” Herlende said. “I believe this would have motivated me to start my job search a little early instead of waiting till the end of the program.”

She also encourages students to research “all the different types of positions in Health informatics because there are so many opportunities. Don’t limit yourself to just one particular field in informatics. You would be surprised at the many job opportunities there are in Health Informatics.”

With her professional career on track, Herlende can devote some time and energy to a personal goal: travelling internationally with Ami-el.

“I’m still in the process of getting passports for my daughter and me,” Herlende said. “However, we have been traveling quite a bit this year. We were in Houston and Dallas, Texas. Texas is so huge and there is so much to do. One of our favorite places that we went to was the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston. It is an amazing experience to learn about NASA, and see the different science exhibits.”

Herlende and Ami-el should be traveling beyond the U.S. borders soon, Herlende said. Once they’ve acquired their passports, they’re off to Panama.

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