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Seeing the Big Picture in Health Care Data

UL Online -- Thu, 01/27/2022 - 3:08pm





The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Graduate Certificate in Population Health — the only program of its kind in Louisiana — focuses on improving healthcare access, quality, and outcomes. 

The six-month online program offers a way of looking at the mechanisms and realities of health care to determine what is and isn’t working to benefit patients and what can be reformed.

Curious about pursuing a career in population health? This guide answers some of the most pressing questions we hear from applicants. If you want to know more, email us your questions at

What to expect in Population Health 

The population health curriculum equips professionals with specialized skills in quality, safety, and data analysis, so they can go on to develop new policies and manage organizational changes.

Applicants can expect a substantial focus on data collection and analysis as a lens through which to identify and understand disparities in health care.

“We want the students to learn how to make health care better and more accessible for everyone, in every population,” says Program coordinator Rachel Ellison, PhD.

Classes cover the laws and policies governing healthcare locally and nationally, financing rules and regulations, quality management and improvement, and social determinants of health. 

Additionally, students will develop an analytical understanding of epidemiology through interpreting case studies and research results.

The core proficiencies in these courses will be of value to a spectrum of students and professionals.

Health care workers – from clinicians to administrators – can advance their career through this program. 

“It's going to be multifaceted, and people are going to have many opportunities to showcase their abilities because this is just not one-size-fits-all,” says Ellison.  

Why do we need Population Health?

Population health provides health care clinicians and administrators with the analytical tools to ensure the right resources are available in the right place at the right time. 

Although there has been a clear need for professionals with this specialized knowledge, the overwhelming strain of the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the extent and urgency of that need.

“We learned with the pandemic was there were many different populations that did not have access to health care,” says Ellison. “And [to an extent] we already knew that was a problem, but it was astounding to see [the severity] as reflected in so much data.” The Graduate Certificate in Population Health at UL Lafayette will be the only of its kind in Louisiana

Who is Population Health for? 

This is a program for curious, determined professionals from different facets of healthcare who are interested in identifying problems, discovering solutions, and implementing changes.

“This is going to be data driven, so we can focus on how to use the data to make changes within healthcare and policies, because now we have actual proof of what is going on and where,” says Ellison.

There is a broad demand for the expertise students can gain in population health across different functions and settings.

“Health care organizations need people like population health analysts to interpret data, to come up with ideas, to decide what action they need to take, whether it’s ‘Get more doctors in that area, or clinics in that area,’” says Ellison. “Our students will assist in being the change makers.”

After completing the Graduate Certificate in Population Health, students will be empowered to bring a more thoughtful, analytical, informed and solution-oriented mindset to their work in direct clinical care, medical staffing and human resources, patient advocacy and coordination, policy analysis, public health research, and much more.

Do you want to learn how the big picture of health care data tells the story of individuals in need? Request information about the Graduate Certificate in Population Health. Applications accepted by Feb. 4.