Population Health

Build basic skills in querying and assessing population-level data and learn to identify risks and inequities within the population. Gain experience with population health quality improvement (QI) projects that drive patient safety improvement.

Independent Health

By providing you with exposure to Independent Health insurance claims data, our population health rotation will broaden your thinking about the health outcomes of groups of individuals.

You will provide neither direct nor indirect patient care during this rotation. Our faculty members will closely guide you to ensure compliance with confidentiality and other corporate standards and policies. 

You can expect to work with faculty and other employees of Independent Health. There, you will receive instruction in querying Independent Health’s data warehouse, and you’ll learn how to answer population-level questions using this data. 

You will have valuable opportunities to meet with a number of department leaders to learn about their functions. 

Gain In-Depth Knowledge

As a resident in our program, you’ll see firsthand that in order to improve population health, it is necessary to influence the social determinants that affect health outcomes through population-wide policies and interventions impacting the determinants.

While it’s crucial for you to understand the many factors that determine population health — which is shaped by social determinants like housing, poverty and education — it’s also crucial for you to hone skills in querying and assessing population-level data, as well as identifying risks and inequities within populations. 

By the time you complete our residency, you should have a firm understanding of the dimensions of, generation of, and uncertainties within claims data and other data available to a payer. We will train you to:

  • recognize the purposes for which claims data is created
  • outline a process for identifying a population with a disease using claims data
  • discuss logistical obstacles to providing provider-specific reports
  • be familiar with the importance of positive relationships with providers
  • understand the usefulness and pitfalls of provider incentives, including perverse incentives and opportunity cost
  • understand prior authorization processes

We also aim to help you gain in-depth knowledge about the process of monitoring population health activities to maximize their impact. We’ll ask you to describe the process of periodic review of quality metrics and incentives. Additionally, we’ll expect you to apply your knowledge about evaluating medical evidence to the process of population health management.

Learn About Physician and Payer Relationships

It is important to understand who the payers are for your patients’ care. With the United States health care system relying heavily on third-party payers — such as commercial insurers and the federal and state governments — we should all understand the role of the physician and payers, with particular attention to population health management. 

This rotation will familiarize you with the physician’s role in:

  • utilization management 
  • setting population health priorities
  • interacting with the provider community, including public communications

This training will also provide you with a firmer comprehension of a physician’s consultative role with sales, marketing and government affairs. Further, it will enable you to describe understanding gaps between physicians and payers.

Great Lakes Quality Improvement (QI) Institute

To improve the health care outcomes, it is important to monitor, analyze and improve the quality of processes. By gathering and analyzing data in key areas, health systems can effectively implement change.

That’s why our quality improvement institute rotation is an important part of your residency training. 

Rotating within the Great Lakes Quality Improvement (QI) Institute, you can look at hospital-based data and develop an understanding of overall health system operations and, in particular, population health functions of the system. You can gain essential skills in querying and assessing population-level data and develop the ability to identify risks and inequities within the population. 

In this rotation, you will learn about uncertainties within health system data and other data available for QI initiatives. We will expose you to modes of influencing the delivery system to improve patient outcomes, and you’ll learn the process of monitoring population health activities to maximize their impact.

Our aim is to help you develop the ability to identify and use resources in the system to provide optimal care and enhance the overall quality and safety of care.

Learn About Operations, QI Strategy, Data and More

How will you gain familiarity with health system operations and population health functions of the system?

You’ll meet individually with organization leaders to learn about the QI operations of Great Lakes, including:

  • QI strategy
  • population health management
  • practice transformation
  • value-based reimbursement
  • operations of various clinical settings and transitions of care

You will receive sets of suggested questions to guide discussions, and we’ll require you to write summaries of the knowledge you gain from each meeting.

Additionally, we’ll ask you to meet weekly with QI faculty and managers, shadow a QI Institute representative and interface with QI teams, participate in the QI audit teams, participate in root cause analysis of near miss or adverse events, and attend meetings relevant to population health management and other organizational functions.

You’ll develop expertise in quality auditing and accreditation, as well as policy revision and modification. We’ll also give you opportunities to learn more about the types of data included in the data warehouse and innovative projects and activities that individuals are participating in related to population health. If you’re interested, you’ll have the opportunity to gain access to a data warehouse and undertake training in creating queries to answer population health questions.

QI Project; Leadership Opportunities

A element of this rotation is a quality improvement project that you may design and implement. 

You can present the QI project at the Jacobs School’s Celebration of Scholarship day, an annual research poster session for residents, fellows, medical students and junior faculty.

Further, leadership opportunities are built into this rotation. You can gain experience teaching health system science to various interprofessional students (medical, nursing, pharmacy, dental and public health), and you’ll mentor medical students and other residents in basic QI curriculum and facilitation of QI projects.

Length of Rotation

Independent Health: Undertake two to four half-days per week over the course of 10 or more weeks.

Great Lakes: Three months of this rotation will be divided across your first and second year of residency.

Training Sites


This rotation is overseen by:

Meka, Jennifer

Jennifer Meka, PhD

Director, Medical Education & Educational Research Institute (MEERI); Associate Dean for Medical Education; Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine

955 Main Street Room 6153 Buffalo, NY 14203

Phone: 716-829-5785; Fax: 716-829-2437

Email: meka2@buffalo.edu

Snyder, Kenneth

Kenneth Snyder, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery, Radiology, and Neurology

Buffalo General Medical Center 100 High Street, B4 Buffalo, NY 14203

Phone: 716-218-1000 x5122; Fax: 716-859-7480

Email: ksnyder@buffalo.edu

Deirdre Anne Wheat, MD.

Deirdre Anne Wheat, MD, MPH, FACP, FACPM, FACMQ

Medical Director; Quality, Disease and Case Management

Independent Health

511 Farber Lakes Drive, Buffalo, NY 14221

Phone: (716) 635-3606

Email: deirdre.wheat@independenthealth.com