When Dr. Jean Scofi ’20 examines a patient in Emergency Services at Yale New Haven Hospital, she evaluates physical symptoms and test results to make a diagnosis. But many factors influence health outcomes—including nutrition, access to care, education, race, and income— that cannot be measured during a visit. People throughout the healthcare industry need new skills and perspectives to understand these factors and make healthcare work better for the entire population.
Scofi is a student in the MBA for Executives course Population Health and Health Equity, which provides an introduction to two frameworks influential in healthcare today. Population health focuses on improving health outcomes for entire communities, while health equity is concerned with underserved groups, particularly those marginalized by historical and contemporary policies.
The course is co-taught by Marcella Nunez-Smith, associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Yale School of Medicine, and Brad Richards ’18, assistant professor of medicine at the Yale School of Medicine. According to Smith, creating positive change requires the ability to understand and act upon everything from literacy rates to the number of providers in a region.
“A lot of things we do outside of the clinical environment are more important than what we do within the clinical setting,” she says.
The course, which is required for all students in the EMBA healthcare area of focus, covers the two frameworks in depth, exploring new finance models and their impact on healthcare delivery; the influence of data-driven patient advocacy groups on policy and research; healthcare innovation; and the evolving healthcare environment created by the Affordable Care Act.
Scofi says that the course provides an analytical framework for insights that she had previously experienced only anecdotally. Studying population health and health equity allows her to see ways to systemically address the barriers many patients face when it comes to their health.
“Immediately, I can go to my own leadership and say I know that some of the things we face in the emergency room, whether dealing with equitability or how to get reimbursed for certain types of patients—maybe we can apply a more structured process to this,” she says.