How would you explain your discipline and/or research to those unfamiliar with the subject?
I would describe Health Data Science as the intersection of computer programming, statistics, and healthcare domain experience. Data-driven decision making is a key component of healthcare delivery and health data science approaches these problems with the most advanced statistical techniques.
What do you wish your colleagues/friends/family knew about your work?
I wish more of my colleagues knew how broadly applicable the data science skillset is to healthcare. Data science is used to develop breakthroughs in areas like medical imaging, drug discovery, personalized medicine, and disease prevention. My healthcare background is in work as a pharmacist in retail and hospital administration and I’m consistently learning new data skills that allow me to approach old problems in new ways. If you’re working in healthcare, you would benefit from learning data science.
Have you learned/discovered anything during your experience at UNH that’s surprised you?
I was blown away by the incredible lifesaving potential of data and wearable technologies. For example, the accelerometer in a smart device can potentially be used to accurately identify individuals at high risk of falls. Data science has the potential to revolutionize preventative medicine!
What do you consider your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge has been leaving the workforce and diving back into higher education on a full-time basis. I’m a proud supporter of being a lifelong learner, but the transition out of the workforce and back into higher education full time during the pandemic was a tough one.
What motivates you?
I’m motivated by the potential to expand healthcare access and improve healthcare outcomes. Healthcare costs have consistently grown faster than inflation and I have close friends who are forced to forgo basic care because of the costs of insurance premiums and deductibles. The healthcare industry is ripe for innovation and the skills learned through this program have the potential to reduce costs while improving outcomes.
What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of my willingness to embrace innovative technologies and be a lifelong learner well after my traditional “college days” have ended. At times in my career, I viewed technological disruption with a sense of dread, and I think this is the wrong approach. In reality, we need healthcare workers to embrace data science to transition healthcare to the data age.
Why did you choose UNH?
I chose UNH because I was looking for a program that was affordable with a strong local reputation. The University of New Hampshire met all of my requirements, and the online program has allowed for great flexibility during the pandemic.
What do you plan to do with your degree?
I hope to work in disruptive technologies that expand healthcare access, reduce costs, and improve patient outcomes. The COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed the way I view telemedicine and I’m particularly excited by what’s to come in this field. We have the potential to redefine a “doctor’s visit” and I’m optimistic that this can significantly improve access and outcomes.