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Juslio Villafan

Building Careers and Community

Data isn’t just data, and Julio Villafañe knows that well. As a senior data consultant at CVS Health, he studies medical treatments, patient outcomes and trends in health care with the goal of reducing costs and improving patients’ health. He is keenly aware that all the data he works with comes from people’s real lives, and that data scientists have an ethical responsibility to make sure no community or demographic is marginalized. That philosophy drew him to a Jesuit education at Regis University.

Julio Villafan

The Intersection of Data and Ethics

The Regis University M.S. Data Science degree stood out to Julio because it was the only program featuring a required course in the ethics of data science, offering education beyond the technical.

"I’m friends with a couple of other people who did data science post-grad degrees elsewhere and it sounds like those programs were laser-focused on technical skills, just learning and implementing statistical models. I knew that wasn’t enough for me."

Ethics for the Real World

Julio found that studying data science at Regis, with its Jesuit foundation and holistic focus on communities, meshed with his own desire to account for a range of population segments in data gathering and interpolation.

“There’s been, unfortunately, a litany of examples in the past decade-plus of data science applications gone wrong, where the sample size isn’t indicative of the entire population. The end result is just hyper-marginalizing certain demographics or communities. I don’t want to continue that collective mistake, especially working in health care."

Julio Villafan

How Data Science Can Improve Lives

Julio also needed a graduate program that would be paid for by his employer, which meant he would be committed to being in the health care field for five years. Currently, his work is focused on tracking CVS therapies that help patients get out of hospital beds and finish their treatment at home.

He takes pride in the fact that the treatments CVS is shipping throughout the country reduce health care costs and improve patient outcomes on a macro level as they're able to finish their therapy regimen in the comfort of their home versus a hospital setting.

"I’m helping CVS make an impact by helping people be healthier. In 2019, for instance, 5% of insured people made up half the total health care spend. If we use targeted, data-driven initiatives to help the people in that 5% be just a little healthier, that’s a win-win. We can use machine learning to analyze leading indicators, find out which people are at risk of diabetes or obesity or hypertension or you name it, and help them nip those problems in the bud."

A Program with the Right Direction

Among the facets Julio appreciates most about his education at Regis University is the direct sense of engagement with professors, learning about health care in real settings, as opposed to reading or piecing code together and the program’s people-centered approach.

"There is this macro sense of understanding where this program lies in what you’re ultimately trying to do with your life. It’s like a compass, guiding you forward, instead of just putting your head down and getting your work done. I think what I’ve gained from the last two years, more than anything, is a sense of compassion."

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