Daniel Z. Louis, former health-care researcher and associate professor at Thomas Jefferson University, dies at 74 – The Philadelphia Inquirer


Math and research came naturally, and he studied ways to improve the countless procedures and guidelines that make up the U.S. health-care system.
Daniel Z. Louis, 74, of Philadelphia, the former managing director of the Center for Research in Medical Education and Health Care at Thomas Jefferson University’s medical college, a research associate professor in Jefferson’s department of family and community medicine, and the founder of his own health-care policy research firm, died Sunday, Jan. 30, of a heart attack in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Exceptionally gifted as a mathematician, researcher, writer, professor, and consultant, Mr. Louis founded and served as chief operating officer of SysteMetrics Inc., a health-care research and consulting company that he eventually sold.
He joined Jefferson in 1985, was a featured researcher and lecturer in the school’s collaboration with educators and health-care officials in Italy, and won the 2012 Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Jefferson School of Population Health.
In his many roles at Jefferson, Mr. Louis helped develop national and international operational health-care systems, including the disease staging process that evaluates the severity of illnesses and assesses the quality and costs needed for proper care.
His popular lectures for students around the United States and Italy focused on health-care issues and internship preparation, and he wrote or contributed to hundreds of papers that were cited thousands of times by other researchers.
He also reviewed scholarly material for the Annals of Internal Medicine, Medical Care, and the American Journal of Medical Quality, and was a member of the editorial board of Jefferson’s health-care newsletter.
In his 2006 survey that showed how poorly many first-year Jefferson medical college students understood the U.S. health-care system, Mr. Louis wrote: “Health policy is clearly an important issue. How can we best integrate health policy in the [Jefferson] curriculum to assist our students in meeting the challenges of practicing medicine in the 21st century?”
In 2012, Caroline Golab, the associate dean for academic and student affairs at Jefferson, wrote that Mr. Louis himself assisted and inspired students. “In addition to his incredible knowledge of the subject matter, students cite him for the superb organization, clarity and precision of his lectures and the vigorous nature of class discussions,” she wrote. “As the students say, you are AWESOME — or FANTASTICO. In either language, that’s all in capital letters!”
After he retired in 2017, Mr. Louis volunteered to help senior citizens navigate Medicare and other health-care systems for the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging, and the Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly.
Born March 25, 1947, in Manhattan, Mr. Louis skipped ahead two grades in school and entered Alfred University when he was 16. He earned a bachelor’s degree in math in 1967 and a master’s degree in operations research from the University of Pennsylvania in 1970.
He married Penny Fifer, and they had daughters Kate and Julie. After a divorce, he married Kathleen Holmes. After her death, he married Evie Cogan. He became partners with Deborah Phillips after his third wife died.
Not surprisingly, Mr. Louis served as his family’s go-to guy for finance, insurance, life planning and other big issues. He took special care of his mother, Grace, and sister, Helene, and drew up spreadsheets to make sure intricate undertakings — such as Thanksgiving dinner and his daughter’s maternity leave — went smoothly.
He became fluent in Italian (with a New York accent) due to his many visits to Rome, Bologna, and Pisa, and enjoyed meeting others who could speak it with him. He knew everyone’s name in his Center City neighborhood, and they all had seen photos of his three grandchildren.
He was fascinated by the Fibonacci sequence, and praised his daughter for getting an A in statistics during her wedding toast. He liked to swim and scuba dive in the Caribbean Sea, and explore the Philly restaurant scene.
“He was the rock in the family,” said his daughter Julie. In a tribute, a friend called Mr. Louis an empathic listener and an all-around good guy who had “the ‘it’ factor of people wanting to work with and be around him.”
Another friend said, “A light just went out in the universe.”
In addition to his mother, daughters, partner, former wife, grandchildren, and sister, Mr. Louis is survived by other relatives.
Services were private.

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