The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Lauren Coakley

School of Public Policy alumna Lauren Coakley
Health Policy Analyst
The Center for Health Information and Analysis

Degree & graduation year: MPP, 2018

What I do: I am an analyst in the Health Analytics and Finance division on the Payer Provider Performance team. My team works closely with insurance carriers who are required to submit data to CHIA regarding medical expenditures, alternative payment methodologies, and pharmacy rebates. I then analyze this data and prepare graphics and narratives for reporting. Our publications, including the Annual Report and the Relative Price Report, are used by a variety of stakeholders and policymakers in the Commonwealth.

How I ended up working there: I was a fellow at CHIA’s sister agency, the Health Policy Commission, during the summer of 2017. At the HPC I was able to interact with health care data and learn about the health policy landscape in Massachusetts. I also interned for the Cannabis Control Commission during the spring of my graduate year, which gave me further insight into the health policy sector. Both of these roles prepared me for my current role at CHIA.

The best part of my job: Seeing months of data-crunching and analysis reach the publication stage! It was very humbling to see the numbers that my small team at CHIA was charged with calculating published and reported through several media outlets.

A recent exciting work experience: Pulling together and analyzing data from multiple sources for an ad-hoc request from another state office. Hosting School of Public Policy students at CHIA during their trip to Boston!  

How the School of Public Policy prepared me for my career: SPP taught me how to write concisely and persuasively (thank you David Mednicoff!) and allowed me to hone my quantitative skills. My statistics class with Sanjiv Gupta gave me invaluable baseline knowledge of Stata and basic analysis skills that I use on a daily basis. I also think working on a group capstone and in other group projects throughout my time at SPP helped me develop strong communication skills, which are vital in my role today. All of these skills prepared me for my job search and placement.

Advice to students considering a degree in public policy: Seek out internships and electives that relate to the policy area you are interested in. Taking electives in the School of Public Health and working on different research projects gave me the health policy knowledge I’ve needed for my career thus far.

Future plans: Continue working at CHIA for the foreseeable future, as I really enjoy the work that I do. After that, we shall see! I hope to stay in the health policy sector somewhere on the East Coast, potentially in DC in the future.