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What Are the Different Career Paths in Healthcare Analytics?

Healthcare is one of the most important industries in the world. While people usually think of healthcare careers in terms of providers like doctors and nurses, there is an entire business and management sector of healthcare systems these institutions rely on. 

As a healthcare data analyst, you’ll be a part of that crucial sector.

Healthcare data analyst careers are fulfilling, impactful, ever-evolving, and not to mention, well-paying. So what do healthcare data analysts do exactly? Keep reading to learn more about the different data analysts careers in the field and what they entail, as well as how you can get started toward a healthcare analytics degree and career.

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What Do Healthcare Data Analysts Do?

While healthcare data analysts’ jobs vary based on employer, position, and overall credentials, the general data analyst job description is the same. The role of a healthcare data analyst is centered around mathematical data and statistics, and the job of a healthcare data analyst is to do the following:

Research and collect healthcare information from multiple sources

  • Identify similarities and differences within sets data sets
  • Analyze data sets and find ways to lower costs and improve services
  • Come up with ways to implement your actionable insights and solutions and share them with others

Most healthcare data analysts work with electronic health records1, but are still responsible to conduct site visits while in the collections phase, and present their data science findings to facilities’ management teams.

  • Entry-level. Analyze results from projects and come up with actionable efficient solutions for improvement. This may also include statistical analysis and you’ll work under a supervisor.
  • Mid-level. You will use statistical and data analysis skills to design solutions. You may  be asked to lead peer-based teams and your skills need to be creative in the methods and processes they do. You will still be supervised.
  • Senior-level. You will do all the same tasks as mentioned above but you will now handle and train junior analysts. Given your comprehensive knowledge and experience, you can make independent decisions and report to a director or VP.

How to Become a Healthcare Analyst

Before looking into specific healthcare data analyst careers, you should first figure out if the field is a good fit for you, and what steps you’ll need to take to get there. 

Working as a healthcare analyst is a great choice for people who like to stay organized, have a systematic approach to problem-solving, and feel comfortable giving presentations and regularly communicating with others. However, having specialized knowledge and technical skills is also necessary for the data analyst job-from healthcare laws to computer programming languages.

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Required Education

At a minimum, data professionals in this job market will need an undergraduate degree, but finding a bachelor’s degree in healthcare data analysis is relatively uncommon. Instead, you’ll have to pursue an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in a related field—like medicine, math, science, technology, or business—and complete the necessary remaining credits through a certification program, which takes a minimum of six months to complete.

Many people choose to go to graduate school and pursue a healthcare analytics degree instead, such as a Master of Science in Healthcare Analytics (MSHCA). Since this degree can be completed in just one year, sets you up for a better healthcare data analyst salary, and is preferred by hiring committees, an MSHCA degree is a popular choice for taking a data analyst role in the future2.

Healthcare Analyst Careers

The healthcare analyst career path branches into different roads. Completing a degree program in mathematics, computer science, engineering, or health sciences is an advantage. You can tailor your studies to a healthcare specialization aligned with your interests and goals. Here are the top 5 professions you can pursue:

1. Medical records and data analyst 

If you're inclined toward data collection, use of statistical software, and a knack for programming, this might be an ideal match for you. You can leverage data to improve public health and health policy. You can engage in clinical research, coordinate with other teams to come up with experiments, draft research proposals, and serve as a consultant of a healthcare organization.

2. Market research analyst

Your main focus is to help the health administration stay competitive and make smart decisions by providing valuable insights in business strategies, product development, and marketing campaigns. You will examine consumer behaviors, preferences, and opinions regarding healthcare services, products, and treatments to develop offers that align with patient needs.

3. Healthcare data engineer

Combining the roles of a business analyst and an IT professional, a healthcare data engineer is proficient in programming languages and database design. You will create, construct, and look after the expansive databases and other complex architecture using your gathered data to find patterns and irregularities. You will work with health information management leaders to understand company goals and use your findings to get to the right solutions.

4. Healthcare supply chain manager

If you have excellent group and interpersonal communication skills, you can be the point of contact for insurance firms, regulatory bodies, hospitals, manufacturers, purchasers, and other stakeholders engaged in the procurement and management of supplies. You will manage inventory, streamline the supply chain, and communicate with all parties involved to help a healthcare organization cut costs but at the same time improve patient care to a better standard.

5. Healthcare operations analyst

If you have skills in resolving issues and implementing decisions, you can positively influence almost every healthcare institution, from maintaining good business relationships to the patients' well-being. You will collect data, evaluate, and engage with staff to address challenges to make predictive models and improve internal processes. 

While some healthcare data professionals work remotely, the vast majority of people spend their days working in a hospital setting. Here’s a list of typical work environments for healthcare data analysts and technicians, in descending order based on popularity, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Hospitals (state, local, and private)1
  • Offices of physicians1
  • Professional, scientific, and technical service industries1
  • Administrative and support service industries1
  • Nursing care facilities1

The groups “professional, scientific, and technical services,” as well as “administrative and support services,” are vague due to their large scope—they account for work environments that aren’t healthcare facilities. Some examples include government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and insurance companies.

Are There More Job Options with a Master’s Degree?

Like most fields, having a master’s degree, in this case, a healthcare analytics degree, can oftentimes open up more job opportunities. Besides working as a healthcare data analyst, some of the other options may include:

  • Clinical manager
  • Health information technology vendor
  • Healthcare economist
  • Data scientist
  • Data architect

Some master’s degree programs also prepare you for advanced certifications that give you distinction in the field and validate your mastery of the subject. One popular option is becoming a Certified Health Data Analyst (CHDA), which can help you qualify for data analyst careers and healthcare information jobs.

What is the Job Market Like?

Data analyst careers of all kinds are experiencing job growth due to our increasingly digital society—healthcare analysts included. The switch to digitizing health records over the course of the last decade has amounted to a huge body of data from healthcare facilities. As the data continues to grow, so too, does the need for people who can work with the data2.

Starting Your Healthcare Analyst Career

Whether you're looking to work in a hospital, with the government, or at a business like an insurance company, the first step to all healthcare data analyst careers is education. If you're ready to start your career path, sharpen your analytical skills and data visualization,  and gain experience in the data analytic world, Alliant is an excellent place to start.

At Alliant International University, you can get a Master’s in Healthcare Analytics degree in approximately one year and be ready to enter the healthcare industry. The experienced faculty members and hands-on approach to learning at Alliant will not only prepare you for data analytic internships, capstone projects, and the CHDA exam, but also your future career as a data analyst.


Sources

  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Medical Records and Health Information Specialists : Occupational Outlook Handbook," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, November 02, 2021. Accessed November 29, 2021. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-records-and-health-information-technicians.htm#tab-3
  2. “School and Career Counselors and Advisors : Occupational Outlook Handbook.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Accessed December 14, 2021. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/Community-and-Social-Service/School-and-career-…;

  3. Learn.org, "Certified Health Data Analyst Certification and Career Facts," Learn. org. Accessed November 29, 2021. https://learn.org/articles/Certified_Health_Data_Analyst_Certification_and_Career_FAQs.html
  4. PayScale, "Average Health Data Analyst Salary," PayScale, November 12, 2021. Accessed November 29, 2021. https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Health_Data_Analyst/Salary
  5. Payscale "Salary for Certification: Certified Health Data Analyst (CHDA)," PayScale, July 13, 2021. Accessed November 29, 2021. https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Certification=Certified_Health_Data_Analyst_(CHDA)/Salary

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