Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the difference between Healthcare Analytics and Health Informatics?
  • The Healthcare Analytics program covers the integration, analysis and presentation of information collected by healthcare professionals (students must have a working background in statistics or have completed a college level Statistics course in the last five years). It dives into healthcare data and hands-on coding, leaning more toward a data scientist. It gives you the knowledge to succeed as a clinical and operational analyst in health care, including:
    -A strong foundation in the structure of healthcare data
    -Hands-on practice with data loading, data preparation, correlation and regression, various data-mining techniques and more
    -Exposure to leading industry applications – SQL, SAS, Tableau, Excel

    In contrast, our Health Informatics courses are more comprehensive and foundational – focusing on creating and optimizing the systems to collect, manage and utilize patient information in the clinical setting (no background in statistics is required, and students will not learn statistics). There is no hands-on coding aspect. The courses provide an applied education for working professionals that will bring you quickly up-to-speed, including:
    -A solid understanding of systems design, knowledge engineering, data standards and decision support
    -Practical experience in concept and data modeling, clinical data flows and decision modeling
    -A deep understanding of EHRs and ancillary systems

  • What background or prerequisites are required for this program?
  • Strong computational math skills (college Algebra or beyond) and a solid understanding of basic statistics are required for the Healthcare Analytics Certificate Program. Students enrolling in this program should have completed prior coursework in statistics (Statistics 1 or equivalent as a minimum), which is a prerequisite for Applied Healthcare Statistics and useful in the following two courses.  This prerequisite equates to a semester-long undergraduate statistics course that covers:  descriptive statistics, basic concepts of probability, grouping, model building, hypothesis testing, confidence intervals, regression, and correlation.  We also recommend that students have a background working with data and an understanding of relational databases.   

    If you do not meet these requirements, you may want to consider a first or refresher course before starting the program.  Many community colleges offer statistics courses and there are some online resources available free of charge. For assistance finding a free refresher course if you took statistics many years ago, please contact program staff.

  • What are the necessary skills for a career in healthcare analytics?
  • According to program instructor Brian Paciotti, there are a lot of skills required, and it always depends on the specific sub-field. However there are two main areas:
    Data Management
    Almost always, students will need to understand databases and how data of various types are stored. Next, they need to know how data can be extracted. Finally, students need to learn about the technology and applications that are used to store and manage data (e.g., relational databases such as Oracle). 
    Data are usually not very meaningful by themselves. Students need to learn that the goal is to use data to create information. This nearly always starts with domain knowledge of the specific domain or problem area (e.g., clinical research, fraud, cost containment). Next students need to be prepared to look for meta-data--what data about the data are available, and how does this help you figure out how to analyze the data. And finally, statistical and data mining algorithms can help transform the data into information that is more meaningful and actionable.

  • What are the courses and sequence in the Healthcare Analytics Program?
  • The program consists of five required courses and the strongly recommended SAS Primer. Many students additionally complete a statistics refresher course. Students may begin with either Introduction to Healthcare Analytics or Healthcare Data Acquisition and Management. This allows a year-round starting point for students new to the program. After completing these two prerequisites, students should complete Applied Healthcare StatisticsData Mining for Healthcare Analytics and Quantitative Methods and Decision Analysis (in that specific order).

    Prior to enrolling in Applied Healthcare Statistics, students should complete the SAS Primer for an overview of the comprehensive SAS toolset as well as a trial run at loading the dataset used throughout the statistics course. This preparation allows students to focus on the statistics content and analytical processes featured in the course and reduces technical issues that cause distractions. If you have experience with SAS or extensive experience in other analytical tools, such as Python, please consult with program staff/faculty regarding your need to take the primer. All other students should include SAS Primer in their curriculum planning.

    A statistics refresher course should be taken prior to starting the program or concurrently in the first two quarters. Please note, as many students take a statistics refresher and the SAS Primer concurrently with their first two courses, careful consideration to the time required for success in the program is critical prior to enrollment. Please contact unit staff for any questions and assistance with planning.

  • What specific statistics background is necessary?
  • Students should understand and apply the following concepts: variables and distributions, correlations, Null Hypothesis, regressions, group comparisons (t-tests and ANOVAs), generalized linear models. Students not comfortable with the preceding should take a refresher course.

    A sample skills inventory is available here.

  • What is the difference between Biostatistics and Healthcare Analytics?
  • Two of the courses in the program, Applied Healthcare Statistics and Quantitative Methods and Decision Analysis, certainly have some overlap with biostatistics.  However, there is little overlap in the other three courses. Note that our coverage of statistics is heavily focused on application to healthcare using clinical and claims data, and encompasses methods for a range of questions from descriptive to predictive.  We also introduce data mining methodologies, which are not often addressed in a biostatistics curriculum.
  • What are the technical requirements?
  • General Technical Requirements:

    As an online program, technical requirements are crucial. To function well in our online classroom (the OLC) you will need to have an updated browser and, ideally, be versed in which browsers work best for video and plugins. You may occasionally need to update a plugin or application such as Adobe Reader, Flash or Java. For more information, visit the online learning tech requirements page.

    The OLC is compatible with tablets and smartphones as well as Apple devices but many assignments and use of analytical tools will require a computer due to the size limitations of portable device screens and improved processor functionality. Additionally, use of analytical tools may be limited or not available for Apple products. SAS Studio and Enterprise Miner are not Mac compatible.

    Please see “What Analytical Tools are used in the program?” for more specific technical requirements.

  • How do the online courses work?
  • Course modules are released weekly, where lessons typically load on Wednesdays and are due the following Tuesdays. Students can log in and work on courses at any time within that week to view lectures and complete assignments. Courses consist of video lectures, reading assignments, written assignments and discussion forums. The time it takes you to complete each lesson depends on your individual approach and learning style. Lesson presentations vary in length, and you will spend time working on your assignments, reading, and interacting with classmates in the discussion forums. As a general rule, plan on spending about 2-4 hours online each week, plus 3-4 hours of work outside of class on readings and assignments.

  • What Analytical Tools and Software are used in the program?
  • Healthcare Data Acquisition and Management makes use of both MS Excel and SQL Developer and Tableau.

    SQL programming experience is not required but you will be expected to run code provided by the instructor and analyze and refine SQL queries. For more SQL Developer technical requirements see:

    Tableau Public (free): Tableau is a popular business intelligence platform many organizations are adopting as a solution to transform their data into actionable information.  Students will have the opportunity to use this powerful system and learn fundamentals about making tables and charts from analytic data files.  See:

    Applied Healthcare Statistics relies extensively on SAS on Demand for Academics Studio to prepare data for analysis. In this course, code will be supplied but students should plan to use SAS Support for refinement or any issues with software conflicts.  To view technical requirements see:

    Data Mining for Healthcare Analytics utilizes both SAS Studio and Enterprise Miner. Code will be provided but students will be expected to revise for their datasets. To view technical requirements see:

    Quantitative Methods and Decision Analysis uses SAS Studio and explores the following:

    Tableau Public (free): Tableau is a popular business intelligence platform many organizations are adopting as a solution to transform their data into actionable information.  Students will have the opportunity to use this powerful system and learn fundamentals about making tables and charts from analytic data files.  See:

    EventFlow (free): EventFlow is a visualization tool designed to analyze categorical temporal event data. It has been applied to domains such as cybersecurity, sports analytics, incident management and healthcare management. Event Flow is predicated on the vision of future user interfaces moving toward larger, information-abundant interactive visual displays, enabling analysts to assess data quality, compare populations, and spot anomalies that are medically actionable. See:

  • Are SQL and SAS training part of the certificate?
  • You do not need to know SQL ahead of time.  We will cover SQL at a basic level in Data Acquisition and Management and provide links to external resources for those who want to hone their skills further.  If you will use SQL extensively in your work, you will likely want to take a short course focused on SQL concurrently or after you complete the program. 

    SAS (Statistical Analysis System) OnDemand is the predominant tool used in three of the courses; however, our goal is not to teach SAS skills but to emphasize the principles, questions and methods irrespective of the tool you will ultimately use professionally.  So, while participants receive some instruction about the tool, with coding and queries provided, the goal is not to create SAS programming experts. 

    To support students new to this tool a preliminary course, SAS Primer is offered just prior to Applied Healthcare Statistics. Those with no SAS experience are highly encouraged to take the SAS Primer first. The goal of this self-paced course is to teach fundamental SAS skills required to download and process the same dataset used in Applied Healthcare Statistics without having the pressure of content oriented assignments and deadlines.

  • How soon will I get hands-on with data?
  • The curriculum is designed to become increasingly hands-on as you progress through the courses. The Introductory course is more conceptual in nature to ensure a common understanding about changes in healthcare and the role/application of analytics in supporting the transition from fee-based care to outcome-based and preventative care.  This course may be suitable for those who do not anticipate performing analyses, though would benefit from understanding the value proposition for analytics. All other courses have hands-on work with data, most especially the final three, which additionally use SAS OnDemand.

  • How long will it take me to complete the certificate program?
  • The certificate program consists of five required courses.  Students who choose to take two classes per quarter can complete the program in one year or less. Most full-time professionals find they have time to complete only one class per quarter, taking a little over one year to complete the program.

    You must complete all of the course requirements within five years from the day you enroll in the first course. A certificate will not be awarded if the requirements are not completed and your certificate registration form is not received within this timeframe.

  • What is the cost of the program?
  • As a self-supporting division, UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education fees are charged on a course-by-course basis and must cover all instructional and administrative expenses. The total cost of the Healthcare Analytics Certificate Program is $6,125 ($1,200 per course, plus a $125 certificate registration fee). For students with little or no relational database experience who are also planning to take the SAS Primer course, the fee for this course is $595. For Healthcare Analytics Certificate Program students who have already completed the Certificate Registration form, the fee for SAS Primer is $395. To take advantage of this discount, please call Student Services at (530) 757-8777 to enroll in the course by phone. Fees do not include the cost of textbooks and e-readers.

  • Will I receive a discount as a UC alumnus?
  • Alumni association members of any UC campus may enroll in one UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education course per quarter at a 10 percent discount for up to $50 per course.  Proof of membership is required when you enroll.  Check with your alumni office for information on your membership status.
  • What do past students have to say about the program?
  • Visit our Student Reviews page to hear from alumni of the certificate program.