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

November 11, 2021
Teammates working on data analysis and strategy on virtual screen

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 Medical Officer
A part of a health system executive team, the Chief Medical Officer, or, CMO, oversees the physician operations of an entire health system including budget, hiring and training, market strategy, patient experience and more.

Clinical Analyst/Health Data 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.

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.

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.

Management Analyst/Operations Analyst
Management analysts provide advice to organizations on how to improve their efficiency. In a health care setting this person might be advising on clinical schedules, administrative hierarchy and decision-making, and other aspects of business to improve its effectiveness.

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.

Public Health Advisor
Use your data skills and health care knowledge to bridge the gap between scientists or medical professionals and non-profit or governmental organizations working to improve public health. They may identify needs of communities or be brought in to help consult on strategies to solve problems and meet goals.

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/