PHHP alumnus spotlight: Jacky Lagrace, B.H.S. ’06

Jacky Lagrace horizontalBy Katarina Fiorentino, B.H.S. Communication Sciences and Disorders ’21

Jacky Lagrace is a Value-Based Care Contracting Director at Ascension. He is a University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions alumnus from Central Florida, who holds a Bachelor of Health Science from UF and a Master of Health Services Administration from the University of Michigan. He has deep experience developing trusted relationships and facilitating physician engagement in clinical integration and value-based care. Jacky is passionate about working with physicians, practice administrators, care teams, and health system leaders to identify and advance priorities in population health and clinical practice efficiency, processes and outcomes. He also serves on the Board of Directors for WeCareJax, an organization in Duval County that coordinates compassionate specialty health care services for people who are uninsured.

Lagrace shares insights about his career journey, working in the field of health care administration, and how his time at UF prepared him for a career in health care.

March 8, 2022 update: Lagrace has been named the new Vice President, Population Health, for Ascension Florida & Gulf Coast, effective April 1.

What is your career background and current role at Ascension?

I am a value-based care and population health executive who leads value-based care partnerships for Ascension communities served in Florida, Alabama, Michigan and New York. Ascension is an integrated health care delivery system of clinics, hospitals and health plans located in 19 states and the District of Columbia providing compassionate care through a national care delivery network. I returned to Ascension this year after having previously served at Ascension Michigan and Ascension Florida seven years ago. I have worked side-by-side with physicians, practice administrators and care teams to implement population health management initiatives and to optimize the use of clinical information technology that supports patients getting the right care at the right place. My current role is Value-Based Care Contracting Director, Ascension Clinical and Network Services. Ascension Clinical and Network Services brings together various areas within Ascension, including Ascension Medical Group, Ascension managed care, value-based care, population health, clinical quality, and health insurance, allowing for integrated care delivery.

My favorite part about returning home to Ascension is getting to work closely again with people like E. Redmon, M.D., M.B.A., FACP, Chief Clinical Officer for Ascension Florida and Gulf Coast. She is a fellow alumna of the University of Florida. I also get to work with some new faces such as Jeffrey Price, Vice President of Value Based Programs and Payment Innovation at Ascension. I am honored and humbled to serve with such a great team. It’s exciting to work with our Ascension teams to implement value-based care partnerships which advances population health.

Dr. Redmon and Lagrace
Dr. Redmon and Lagrace, attending a Clinical Excellence Ascension Conference.

What does collaboration with other health care professionals look like in your day-to-day role?

That is my favorite aspect of my career, working side by side with physicians, practice administrators, and value-based care leaders to support them in doing what they love the most, which is providing care for the patients. I put in place the infrastructures and the payment arrangements to enable the clinicians to take care of the patients. My passion really lies with ensuring that the physicians and health system leaders have the tools to advance priorities in population health and clinical practice outcomes.

What drew you to UF, and more specifically, the PHHP college?

UF is certainly dear to my heart, and my parents encouraged me to attend. When I visited the University of Florida during a trip to Gainesville, I traveled with a couple leaders from Boys and Girls Club who served as mentors to me. I attended UF with the Education Foundation of Osceola County Take Stock in Children Scholarship, which I was awarded while in middle school. The Boys and Girls Club and The Education Foundation allowed me to dream beyond what I could imagine and helped prepare me for my career.

When I came to campus, I started to get involved and think about what I wanted to do. I volunteered with Preview, which is a program where current students help welcome potential students, and I also became a residence hall assistant (RA) when I lived on campus. I liked how UF had a strong health professions program and a great alumni network to connect with and to learn about different careers. The health services tracks and the opportunity to connect with alumni helped to solidify my interests. The Creator led me to UF and I’m glad I decided to attend UF and enroll in the Bachelor of Health Sciences Program at PHHP.

While at UF, I met Terry Mills, Ph.D., Associate Dean at the University Florida. As I was thinking about what route I wanted to take, such as physical therapy, medical school, or health care management, I met with Dean Mills, and he opened my eyes to health care management as a potential field. After my conversation with Dr. Mills, I completed informational interviews with local hospital administrators and CEOs and from that point on I decided I would pursue a career in health care management. Also, as an undergraduate student at UF, I volunteered at UF Health Shands Hospital. This helped me in figuring out where and how I wanted to serve in health care.

What’s your favorite memory from your time at UF?

I served as a research assistant at the Florida Center for Medicaid and the Uninsured with Allyson Hall, Ph.D., a professor in health services research, management, and policy. As an undergraduate student and research assistant, I wrote policy briefs, did data analysis, and published articles about health insurance coverage and trends. The center helped to disseminate various studies and research projects funded by the state and university regarding health insurance coverage for the state of Florida.

What advice would you give to students considering your career?

Spend time doing informational interviews with leaders in the community and attend any “Lunch and Learns,” where various administrators and health care leaders come in and speak about the work that they do. This is a great way to learn about the various areas within health care. Lastly, I would encourage students to do an internship and fellowship in health care to continue to develop their skillset and learn more about their areas of interest.

Do you have a favorite club or experience from your time at UF?

I really liked working with Preview. It gave me a chance to help new students and families get acclimated to UF. I also got to travel to Preview-like programs at other universities. There are some students that were my Preview students when I was a staffer, that are still connected to me, and are connecting with me on LinkedIn. I remember Preview like it was yesterday! It is a great program and a great way to give back and to really make an impact on students. To be a support for them and to be there for them as they’re making this big transition to college life. And it was fun and very rewarding.