The increasing amount of data available today requires professionals who can interpret it. This is especially true in the health care field, which collects data from electronic health records (EHRs), medical devices, pharmaceutical research and medical imaging.
The industry has a strong need for professionals capable of interpreting big data, as the market for health care analytics is growing quickly. The market surpassed $14 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow to $40 billion by 2024, according to Black Book Research. In light of this growth, individuals seeking a career in health care may want to consider becoming a health care analyst.
Professionals with an advanced degree in business analytics can benefit the health care industry as it moves more aggressively into big data interpretation. For this reason, the health care data analyst salary can be quite competitive.
The Role of a Health Care Data Analyst
Data plays a key role in helping health care facilities develop cost-effective patient care, but the industry faces the challenge of unstructured data, which is often difficult for nurses, doctors and administrative staff to access.
The responsibilities of a health care data analyst include analyzing and interpreting this unstructured data. Data analysts standardize the data-gathering process and optimize and organize the output. They understand computer programming languages and have a working knowledge of machine learning.
The field requires analysts to work with a variety of professionals, such as doctors, nurses, IT professionals and administrative staff. Analysts must collaborate and work in team environments.
Accurate interpretation and presentation of big data provides vital insight into patient safety. Medical professionals, for example, use real-time patient data from EHRs to make the most informed decisions, such as ensuring patients with acute kidney injuries (AKI) are not prescribed medication that affects kidney function. Good data also helps medical professionals avoid conditions such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which can be especially problematic in hospital settings. Data analytics can track patients infected with MRSA to determine if they may have had contact with others. By interpreting data, data analysts work with physicians to develop infection-control protocols.
Health care data analysts also interpret and organize billing information and patient survey data. Utilizing predictive analytics and machine learning, they streamline the process for billing and make it easier for administrative staff to bill patients. Patient surveys help executives pinpoint the areas in an organization that need more development. For example, a patient survey can highlight dissatisfaction with the wait time for medical services. Executives can use this knowledge to hire more staff to meet these needs.
The Skills of a Health Care Data Analyst
To be effective in their role, health care data analysts must develop a variety of skills. Core competencies include analytical skills, mathematics, and technical and computer skills. Data analysts must also hone soft skills, such as communication and problem-solving.
- Analytical Skills: Health care data analysts must be able to interpret large amounts of data. Their role requires that they analyze this data and organize it in a manner that is easily understood by doctors and other medical staff.
- Mathematics: Any career in data analysis demands a strong knowledge of mathematics. Specifically, to understand machine learning and predictive analytics, data analysts must have a strong background in calculus, linear algebra, multivariate calculus and statistics.
- Communication: Data analysts must be able to organize big data in a manner that can be easily understood by individuals without a background in the field. Big data is only useful if analysts can effectively communicate their findings. These professionals must also adequately understand the needs of those relying on the data.
- Problem-Solving: Data analysts rely on their problem-solving skills and wealth of knowledge to find solutions to a variety of problems related to the interpretation of big data.
What Is the Health Care Data Analyst Salary?
The median annual health care data analyst salary is around $61,200, while the top 10% of professionals in the field earn around $82,000, according to PayScale. Some of the factors that can affect pay are the level of education, years of experience and job location. Professionals with an advanced degree tend to make more, as do individuals with more years of experience. Analysts working for large hospitals in cities tend to make more than those working for smaller organizations in less populated regions.
Discover a Fulfilling Career in Health Care as a Data Analyst
The health care field is awash in data from government agencies, EHRs, public records, medical devices and patient billing information. The industry needs professionals with a background in data analytics to interpret all of it. The Online Master of Science in Business Analytics offered by the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business can prepare students to meet these challenges and help them to develop the skills to be effective leaders in the field.
The Online MSBA program offers students the opportunity to develop a professional understanding of quantitative modeling, data mining, data management and SQL, as well as a variety of other technical skills. The curriculum can prepare students to manipulate large amounts of data that can be key in forecasting, predicting and decision-making.
Explore how the University of Maryland’s Online Master of Science in Business Analytics can help you to become a leader in the growing field of health care analytics.