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What Can I Do with a Degree in Health Care Data Analytics?

November 11, 2021
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In this age of big data, there’s good news on the career front. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) notes, “The vast volumes of electronic data woven from a multitude of systems, registries, and remote technologies creates promising career opportunities for health data analytics and informatics professionals that have a capability and skill set to impact the quality, efficiency, and cost of care without ever treating a patient.”1

Our recent blog post clarifies several similarities and differences between the closely related fields of health care data analytics and health informatics. While specialists in both areas work with patient health information, a quick distinction between the two professions is that health informaticists plan for and administer health information technology (IT) systems; health care data analysts analyze the data collected by those systems to make educated recommendations for changes.

Read on to explore what the professional future can hold when you have a degree in health care data analytics.

Health Care Data Analyst

The field of health care data analytics is quite new. In her 2019 article, The Evolution of Healthcare Data Analytics, United Health Group Senior Business Developer Marmi Le wrote,

“When I graduated from college in the mid-90s, there was no such thing as a university degree in ‘Healthcare Informatics’ or ‘Health Data Science.’ I’m pretty sure there wasn’t even any undergrad or grad school program called ‘Data Science.’ In order to get a solid grounding in skills that would come in handy to get a job after graduation, you had to either major in a hard STEM discipline needing math and statistics, or in one of the social sciences with a quantitative component to it, like economics. … Thus, when I switched from finance to healthcare in 2001, my title was Statistician. There just wasn’t any job called Data Analyst or Data Scientist at the time.”2

As a result of the discipline’s relative novelty, current research into careers in this field skews heavily toward postings for health care data analysts, whose work continues to gain importance as organizations look to use big data to improve the quality of care.

Also known as health care business analysts or health information management (HIM) analysts, health care data analysts apply specialized knowledge of data acquisition, management, analysis and interpretation directly to health care data. They help their organizations enhance patients’ experiences while improving the quality and reducing the cost of care. To do so, they rely on information from diverse sources, including electronic health records (EHRs), insurance claims, cost reports and patient satisfaction surveys. They collect and interpret this data and provide actionable insights for physicians, clinical researchers, operations specialists, administrators and others in health care leadership to use.

In pursuing this career, you may choose to take the certification exam to earn AHIMA’s Certified Health Data Analyst credential, as it documents the ability to “acquire, manage, analyze, interpret and transform data into accurate, consistent, and timely information, while balancing the ‘big picture’ strategic vision with day-to-day details.”3 Learn more in our post about health care data analysts.

Careers in Health Care Data Analytics

A degree in health care data analytics opens the door to a wealth of career paths. Consider the responsibilities and median salaries4 of fourteen essential roles in this growing, dynamic field:

Chief Information Officer
CIOs are responsible for setting strategies for their departments and analyzing the impact that new systems may have on the organization’s goals and personnel. They select and implement technology solutions to streamline internal operations and optimize the customer experience.

Chief Medical Officer
This role is fairly new to the health care market, but it’s in growing demand. Most chief medical officers are practicing physicians or information technology (IT) professionals with specialized training. They regularly evaluate an organization’s IT systems, analyze health data to improve operations and train a variety of health care professionals in IT systems and applications.

Clinical Analyst
Serving as liaisons between patient care and clinical technologies design, clinical analysts implement and maintain clinical systems. They focus on controlling the flow of information as it’s collected from patients, clinicians, doctors and other health care professionals while making necessary system updates.

Clinical Database Programmer
These specialists work in support of clinical trial data management and programming tasks associated with creating, verifying and documenting analyses and reporting.

Clinical Informatics Director
As the advocate for new systems, the clinical informatics director champions the implementation process and trains staff in using each platform. Active in monitoring the latest trends in health care technology, the CID recommends changes as needed.

Clinical Informatics Manager
Top priorities: monitor the latest software and keep the organization’s technology up to date. Plan, develop and implement programs that improve system efficiency and make information more accessible to all health care professionals.

Clinical Informatics Specialist
These professionals build and test the user interfaces that store and analyze health information. They educate staff members on how to use them effectively, and they play an essential role in developing strategies and best practices for developing future information systems.

Database Administrator
An organization’s database administrators (DBA) use specialized software to store and organize data such as financial information and patient records. They see to it that data are available to users and secure from unauthorized access.

Director of Information Technology
The development and deployment of health care technology require leadership and technical advice from someone with the skills to bring new products to market in a strategic way. Directors of information technology manage system performance and oversee technical projects based on benchmarks they set.

Epic Consultant
Experts in epic systems, these specialists develop and implement the tools and training needed to lead clients through system implementation and optimization. They analyze and identify the causes of pressing issues, resolving major challenges in fast-paced environments that require flexibility, adaptability and resilience.

Health Care IT Project Manager
In overseeing each step involved in launching large-scale technology projects, these experts work to improve business processes and maximize efficiency by driving quality results with measurable impact.

Health Informatics Consultant
Health informatics consultants ensure that their organizations comply with federal regulations. They support internal staff, training them in new procedures and technology integrations, and they stay abreast of current trends within the industry.

Pharmacy Informaticist
These professionals focus on precision in medical prescriptions, as the chance of error or misuse decreases as precision increases. They work to replace handwritten prescription processes with digital solutions in order to provide more accurate medication data to suppliers and patients.

Predictive Analytics Lead
Data is only useful when people can understand it. In the modern, information-heavy health care environment, predictive analytics leads combine strong data exploration, statistical modeling, and skill in communication and collaboration to deliver analysis and models.

Gain the Skill to Make an Impact

Marquette’s online Master of Science in Health Care Data Analytics program empowers you with the multifaceted expertise you need to help countless people and make a lasting difference in health care. Reach out to an Admissions Advisor to learn more about our interdisciplinary online curriculum, experienced and committed faculty and admissions process.

  1. Retrieved on November 11, 2021, from bok.ahima.org/doc?oid=302313#.YYrxQdnMJ6f
  2. Retrieved on November 11, 2021, from medium.com/sant%C3%A9/the-evolution-of-healthcare-data-analytics-89eaeb984c94
  3. Retrieved on November 11, 2021, from journal.ahima.org/have-you-considered-a-career-in-the-field-of-healthcare-data-and-analytics/
  4. All salary numbers retrieved on November 11, 2021, from glassdoor.com/