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What is a health care data analyst?

October 28, 2021
Coworkers using a tablet to look at data

Health care is a hot topic in the United States. Accessibility, quality and efficiency are all issues with the industry that health systems, insurers and governments of all levels are working on improving. Health care data analysts are the professionals at the center of improvement efforts. Read on to learn about the role of health care data analysts, how they’re working to make the industry better and job outlook for the career as a whole.

What is a health care data analyst?

Health care data analysts, or, health data analysts, are skilled at using statistics, business intelligence solutions and analytics to find patterns in the data collected and use the information to make educated suggestions for improvement of service and delivery of care. Health data analysts typically work for hospitals, clinics, health systems, insurers and increasingly are being employed by health tech companies and consultant firms.

What data do health care analysts use?

The data health care analysts use can come from several different places. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) the types of data generally fall into a few categories: administrative data, patient medical records, patient surveys, anecdotal information from patients, standardized clinical data like the information that home health agencies and the like have to record for Medicare.1 The evolution of devices that we use to track different aspects of our health like FitBits and iWatches, plus mobile-connected insulin pumps, pacemakers and more, has unlocked even more data that could be crucial to informing the decisions made by health care providers.

How do health data analysts improve health care?

Applications of health data are countless and it’s partially up to health care data analysts to to interrogate data to find more opportunities for improvement. Common ways data analysts use health information are to:

  • Predict patient volumes to improve staffing
  • Analyze large amounts of treatment information to find trends that lead to better patient outcomes
  • Use predictive analytics to help clinicians make data-driven decisions about patient treatment
  • Identify and intervene to help patients in complex care situations
  • Reduce redundant testing or procedures

Is health care data analytics the same as health informatics?

No, but they’re related! Health informaticists and health data analysts work on different aspects of gathering health data but might even work closely at some organizations. Health informatics focuses on implementing technology to accurately gather useful information. Health care data analysts then evaluate the data to make suggestions for improvement.

What do health informatics professionals do?

Health informatics professionals use their knowledge of information systems, databases, and information technology to help design effective technology systems that gather, store, interpret, and manage the data that is generated in the provision of healthcare to patients.2

A person working in health informatics is more likely to have a background in IT or system administration and have some programming knowledge. They’re responsible for making the most out of the technology an organization has invested in, like an electronic health record (EHR) system, and constantly evaluating the processes for data collection, adjusting reports and tracking trends in health technology. Health informaticists also might work in keeping data secure.

What’s the job market like for health care data analysts?

Health care is a great industry to find a career in right now. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment in healthcare occupations is projected to grow 16 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.3

When it comes to analytics roles specifically, the numbers are just as promising. The World Economic Forum’s 2020 Future of Jobs Report shows data analysts and scientists are the number one most in-demand role across industries including the most in-demand role in health care.4

How can I get a job in health care data analytics?

Some health care data analysts have a background in clinical work like nursing, medical assistants or technicians. People working on the frontlines of health care often end up getting the closest look at the gaps in health care service and delivery which motivates them to take on a job where they can really focus on improvement efforts. But a clinical background isn’t necessary to enter the field! A master’s program that integrates health care knowledge with the science of data analytics can help most professionals jump into the role.

Interested in a career improving health care?

A career as a health care data analyst is an exciting role that can put you at the center of change in an organization and in the entire health care field. The best way to break into the field is with an online Master of Science in Health Care Data Analytics. At Marquette, our entirely online master’s program allows you to keep working at your current role while you gain knowledge and skills to advance your career. The curriculum is split between computing courses to give you a sturdy foundation in analytics and health care courses to enhance your understanding of data in the health setting. If you want to have a hand in improving the health care industry, this is your opportunity. Schedule a call with an Admissions Advisor to learn more or apply today to get your career as a health analyst started.

Sources
  1. Retrieved on October 25, 2021, from ahrq.gov/talkingquality/measures/understand/index.html
  2. Retrieved on October 25, 2021, from bok.ahima.org/doc?oid=302313#.YXcFPEbMJ6q
  3. Retrieved on October 25, 2021, from www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home.htm
  4. Retrieved on October 25, 2021, www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Future_of_Jobs_2020.pdf