Healthcare Analyst Career Guide

What is a Healthcare Analyst?

A healthcare analyst is responsible for analyzing medical data in order to improve the business aspect of medical organizations. They are also known as healthcare information management analysts or healthcare business analysts.

The data they analyze comes from a variety of sources, including patient surveys, patient records, financial records, and data gathered on staff members. Their ultimate goal is to propose strategies that will ultimately reduce the costs for the business, increase patient satisfaction, and improve patient care.

What Does a Healthcare Analyst Do?

Healthcare analysts deal almost exclusively with data from a wide range of sources. With data in hand, they will analyze it using current techniques, which requires knowledge of multiple programming languages. Many analysts report that knowledge of structured query language (SQL) is a requirement to properly carryout their job.

The exact method of analysis can often be left up to the analyst; however, if working in a team with multiple analysts, the type of language and usage of models will likely be aligned to improve channels of communication. Model development is a key part of analysis, as it helps healthcare analysts streamline incoming data.

As data is analyzed and trends are found, healthcare analysts must writeup the results into reports. The frequency and types of reports will largely depend on the business and their expectations of the data. For example, a healthcare analyst might be required to deliver a presentation to hospital managers on trends found regarding patient satisfaction. Reports can be given as often as requested, but many analysts report monthly or quarterly reports on findings from data are required.

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Healthcare analysts often work alone but may coordinate their work with other healthcare analysts. One analyst may be in charge of better understanding patient care, whereas another may be focused on patient satisfaction. Given the similarities between the tasks, data can be shared between the analysts. They may also share and co-create models as well as deliver reports as a team.

In some occasions, healthcare analysts may need to request certain data if the current data is not meeting expectations for analysis. For example, an ill-designed patient survey will make a healthcare analyst’s job difficult. They are often in a position to lobby for better data collection methods, when possible. This may require communication with higher ups in the company or requesting data from other venues.

Healthcare analysts often try to predict trends in healthcare in order to give the medical business (whether hospital or other type of business) an idea of how to best prepare for future scenarios in the healthcare industry.

What is the Difference Between an Entry Level and a Senior Level Healthcare Analyst?

An entry level healthcare analyst is a beginner at analyzing healthcare data and is often a recent college graduate. They likely need on the job training, supervision, and extensive guidance before they can work independently. Other healthcare analysts will have to determine their existing knowledge in order to estimate what type of on the job training needs to occur. One benefit of entry level healthcare analysts is that they are often trained in recent data techniques that they can share with the team at large.

Senior level healthcare analysts, on the other hand, have several years of experience analyzing data in the medical sector. If they have remained at their same organization, they are at a level where they can work independently with little to no guidance. These individuals often oversee other healthcare analysts and have a higher salary as a result. Senior level healthcare analysts who decide to work for a different company do not often need extensive training to begin work.

What is the Work Environment for a Healthcare Analyst?

The vast majority of healthcare analysts work inside at a computer at one location. The location is often a hospital, but can also include physicians’ offices, nursing homes, or a consulting service. Since direct patient care is not a job duty of healthcare analysts, larger facilities often have external offices from the site of care where healthcare analysts may work.

Healthcare analysts spend the majority of their time in front of a computer, but some days will be spent delivering reports or giving presentations. These deliverables may be given within the same office building or require some travel. Healthcare analysts who work for larger hospitals or who oversee a team of analysts may be required to travel in order to present data findings.

Why Do We Need Healthcare Analysts?

Healthcare analysts are important members of the medical field, despite the fact that they do not interact directly with patients. Hospitals and other healthcare businesses like nursing homes often follow routine protocols on a daily basis. While assumptions are in place that these protocols have the wellbeing of the patients and hospital staff at their core, this may not always be the case. Healthcare analysts are in a position where they can make suggestions to improve hospitals from a financial and health perspective. They also can help hospitals make changes for the future or suggest new ways of meeting financial and patient care goals.

For example, a hospital may be finding that their retention rate of patients is declining. After collecting data from patients and hospital staff, the data would be given to a healthcare analyst to decipher. The healthcare analyst would be in the position to discover that retention rates are low because of language barriers between most hospital staff and the diverse patients they assist. They could write up a report and deliver this information to a health service manager, who could hire multilingual staff.

What are the Requirements to Become a Healthcare Analyst?

Educational Requirements

At minimum, a healthcare analyst needs to have an accredited Bachelor of Science in a related field, such as computer science, health information management, or healthcare informatics. Courses usually focus on data analysis, healthcare linguistics, healthcare ethics, and management in health-related majors.

If a computer science major is taken, courses focusing on healthcare should be taken as well. It is important to understand the data a healthcare analyst works with is highly confidential. Employers will want to ensure a healthcare analyst understands the ethical aspects of the job, as well as how to handle and understand medical data. Some programs require externships, which students will complete at hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Online degrees are offered.

Some healthcare analysts choose to pursue a Master’s degree. The courses will be similar to those offered in the Bachelors program, but with more in-depth courses and viable internship opportunities. If a student was focused primarily on data analytics during their undergraduate career, they may want to follow the path of receiving a Master’s degree in a health analytics field to boost their resume.

While education is important, in most cases 2-5 years of experience is necessary prior to being hired as a healthcare analyst. While some of this experience can be gained during the time spent in the programs, employers will want to see other experience as well. The experience can be in health information technology, as a medical administrator, or any other type of job that is in the healthcare industry. While understanding how to analyze the data is important, employers find medical experience to be crucial when hiring.

Certification Requirements

Receiving a certification to become a certified health data analyst is a voluntary pursuit that can bolster a healthcare analyst’s resume. Educational and job experience requirements must be met before pursing the certificate.

To take the exam, the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) requires that healthcare analysts either have a Bachelor’s degree with three years of relevant experience, or a Master’s degree in Heath Information Management (HIM) or Health Informatics from an accredited institute with one year of experience. The exam is a 400-multiple choice questionnaire that costs $259 for AHIMA members and $329 for non-members. Healthcare analysts should contact potential employers to determine if the AHIMA certification is a worthy pursuit.

How Much Does a Healthcare Analyst Make?

Healthcare analysts are paid well, with an overall average salary of almost $70,000 per year. An entry-level healthcare analyst can expect a starting salary of about $54,000, whereas more senior-level healthcare analysts earn upwards of $89,000. Senior managerial positions can expect to earn $200,000 per year.

Many healthcare analysts have reported that while they experienced a pay increase in a first few years of employment, raises were less common with more seniority. Additionally, many of these individuals decided to move onto other fields or managerial positions once they acquired enough experience. Receiving a Master’s degree or better credentials may result in higher starting pay. Additionally, being trained in certain programming languages like structured query language (SQL) may also led to higher rates of initial pay.

What is the Job Outlook for Healthcare Analysts?

The increasing number of individuals who have health insurance combined with progress in technology and big data has created a large need for healthcare analysts. Additionally, starting in 2009, all medical health records legally needed to be recorded electronically, which created a boom in organized data. This gave hospitals and other medical businesses an incentive to begin combing through data and making better decisions for their business.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that careers in data analysis and handling of electronic health records is expected to increase 15% in the next decade. This is more than twice the expected growth rate of all jobs in the United States.

What Professions are Similar to Healthcare Analyst?

Financial Analyst: Like healthcare analysts, a financial analyst is responsible for analyzing data to reduce costs and improve the financial future of a business, however they report to financial institutions and corporations. They may also work for individuals to analyze their assets and assist in financial decision-making for the future.

Medical Transcriptionist: These individuals work at a computer to transcribe medical patient histories and doctor recommendations in an understandable manner. They may listen to auditory information or transcribe hand-written notes. Medical transcriptionists ensure data and patient information is correct so it can be understood when accessed by medical professionals or healthcare analysts.

Medical Assistants: Medical assistants spend the majority of their time working with patients when they first arrive at a doctor’s office. They measure vital signs and record patient history. They also input medical records and patient information into patient records, which can be used by healthcare analysts and other medical professionals.

Medical and Health Services Managers: These managers oversee hospital staff and functions. They ensure job duties are being performed in an ethical manner, create work schedules, and create facility budgets. They may also develop goals for the hospital or business as well as train incoming staff. Healthcare analysts often report to these individuals when sharing data.

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