Healthcare analytics is the examination of patterns in healthcare data, including claims, research and development, and patient behavior, among others. This analysis can be performed for many reasons, such as determining how clinical care can be improved while limiting excessive spending, cutting down on abuse and fraud, improving patient wellness and supporting clinical decisions.

The rising reliance on big data to help make decisions in healthcare means the need for analysts is rising steadily. Combine this reliance with our growing use of cloud computing – the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted online to store, manage, and process data – and the increasing population of elderly patients, and healthcare analytics is a career that could see an overall 14 percent rise in jobs by 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A Career in Healthcare Analytics

Jobs in this field help people, whether by crunching numbers for a lab that’s developing new medications or analyzing patient outcomes for a clinic that’s looking to improve care standards. Here are some examples of types of healthcare data and the careers that rely on them:

Claims and Cost Data

Insurance companies are major employers in the U.S. According to Statista, a statistics clearinghouse, there are around 2.6 million people employed in insurance. Medical actuaries analyze the financial costs of risk and uncertainty of clients and business decisions for insurance companies. They use math and statistics to assess the risk of medical and life events. The 2017 median pay for an actuary is $101,560 and according to the BLS, the field is expected to grow by 22 percent by 2026.

Pharmaceutical and Research and Development Data

Medical scientists conduct research aimed at improving overall human health by researching diseases, cures, pharmaceuticals and medical best practices. They often use clinical trials and other investigative methods to produce data that they can then use to reach their findings. New medications require careful analysis of the data collected by researchers. Most people who work in research labs have at least a master’s level of education or are actively pursuing an M.S. in analytics. According to the BLS, in 2017, the median pay for a medical scientist was $82,090 and the field is expected to expand 13 percent by 2026.

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Clinical Data

Healthcare analysts can work with government or nonprofit agencies to improve healthcare outcomes for various communities, which can be based on locale or demographic. Some of the tasks healthcare analysts may perform include; providing solutions to community health and social problems by conducting and analyzing research, conducting site visits to assess operations and costs of healthcare programs and preparing policy briefs based on their research. The BLS doesn’t offer statistics for healthcare analysts, but Payscale puts the median salary at $62,121. Payscale also reports most people in the field have a master’s degree and, “for the first five to 10 years in this position, pay increases steeply, but any additional experience does not have a big effect on pay,” most likely due to competition for these types of jobs.

Patient Behavior and Sentiment Data

According to the BLS, medical and health services managers, also called healthcare executives or healthcare administrators, coordinate medical and health services. For these jobs, analyzing patient behavior and sentiment data is critical to make good treatment choices that benefit the patients. They might manage an entire facility, a specific clinical area or department. Health services managers maintain policies that conform to changes in healthcare laws, regulations and technology. In 2017, the median pay for these positions was $98,350 a year.

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A master’s degree in analytics will prepare you for a well-paying, in-demand job in healthcare analytics, and Notre Dame of Maryland University can help you.

The University offers a fully online Master of Science in Analytics that can help you become an asset in your current role or prepare you for the jobs of the future. NDMU has strong networks with regional businesses and 75 percent of graduates are directly applying their research projects to their jobs.