Health Care Data Analyst: Career Guide and How to Become One

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Data analytics and health care are industries in high demand, so it’s no surprise that combining the two can lead to a fulfilling and well-paid career. Here’s what you need to know to become a health care data analyst.

[Featured Image]:  A female, with red hair, wearing glasses, a white jacket and a blue and white top is sitting at her desk in front of her computer, performing her duties as a Health Care Data Analyst.

Health care and technology are two of the fastest-growing career sectors in the United States. A career as a health care data analyst is at the intersection of both industries. Data analytics can unearth powerful insights when applied to health care. These insights can reduce health care costs, deliver better care, and overall have a positive impact on people’s lives.

Health care jobs are projected to increase more than any other occupational group. Employment in health care is expected to grow 13 percent between 2021 and 2031[1]. Whether you are a data analyst interested in pivoting into health care, or a health care professional seeking a more traditional 9-to-5 lifestyle, becoming a health care data analyst could be a good fit for you.

In this article, you’ll learn all you need to know about health care data analysts and how to become one.

What is a health care data analyst?

A health care data analyst is an individual who uses data analytics to improve health care outcomes. By acquiring, combining, and analyzing data from multiple sources, health care data analysts contribute to better patient care, streamlined health care processes, and well-assessed health care institutions. They work primarily on the business side of medicine, unlike doctors, nurses, or medical assistants who work on the clinical side. 

Professionals who work in health care data analytics may have one of many job titles. In addition to health care data analyst, titles can be broad or specific, including:

  • Health care information management analyst

  • “Health care business analyst

  • Health care consultant

  • Clinical data analyst

  • Public health data analyst

  • Health care risk management data analyst

Health care data analysts typically work in these environments:

  • Health care providers (hospitals, clinics, doctor’s offices)

  • Health insurance companies

  • Consulting companies

  • Health-focused non-profit organizations 

  • Electronic health record companies

  • Federal, state, or local government organizations

Read more: What Does a Data Analyst Do? Your Career Guide

Health care data analyst tasks and responsibilities

Health care data analysts help health executives, providers, and administrators make data-driven, strategic decisions to achieve business goals and improve health care for all. Their responsibilities include:

  • Collecting data from multiple sources

  • Managing and organizing data sets from database management systems

  • Finding patterns and trends in data analysis

  • Transforming complex data into digestible insights

  • Sharing findings with stakeholders with reports and presentations

  • Providing recommendations for improvement 

Health care data analysts can help improve the quality of health care that patients receive and ultimately boost patient outcomes.

Types of data analyzed

Health care data analysts must use the right types of data to generate insights that are valuable to health care. These are a few of the data types they work with, including big data:

  • Clinical data: The most common type of health care data analytics is clinical data. This includes using medical records to directly improve medical outcomes. A data analyst these days might use electronic health records (EHRs) to assess the number of cancer patients treated in a hospital network, or how to reduce risk of contamination, for example. 

  • Insurance data: Data analysts who work for health insurance providers will analyze claims data to help institutions identify which areas could benefit from more financial investment. They may also help insurance companies understand whether their premiums are priced affordably, or where resources are being wasted. 

  • Pharmaceutical data: Health care data analysts in the pharmaceutical sector will usually support research and development that can improve products, such as prescription drugs or medical devices. Pharmaceutical companies have a hand in accelerating drug development while also sharing necessary historic research data on cancer, including clinical trials, treatments, and technology.

  • Behavioral data: Patient behavior is an important type of data to analyze because it offers qualitative and quantitative information about consumer behavior, such as retail habits, satisfaction with a product or treatment, and more. This data can inform how health care providers deliver value-based care, medical suppliers with marketing, or governments with information campaigns.

  • Public health data: A health care data analyst might work with public health data to deliver statistics, infographics, and reports after identifying methods for preventing disease or promoting health within a population.

Health care data analyst salary and job outlook

A typical salary for a health care data analyst may depend on the type of company or organization you work for. The median annual salary ranges from $62,590 to $70,155 [2, 3]. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, that number is higher, at $82,360 [4]. 

Skilled data analysts are needed in the health care sector to transform data into actionable insights for companies, non-profit organizations, and governments. It is estimated that data analyst jobs will grow 23 percent between 2021 and 2031 much faster than the average for all occupations [4].

Read more: How Much Do Data Analysts Make? 2022 Salary Guide

Skills needed to be a health care data analyst

Health care data analysts share many of the same qualifications that data analysts need in other sectors. Technical skills are critical for any data analyst’s toolkit. A health care data analyst should have the following skills:

  • Knowledge of mathematics and statistics

  • Proficiency with data storage, data wrangling, data warehousing, and mining

  • Familiarity with programming languages like Python, R, and SQL

  • Experience with Microsoft Office, especially Excel 

  • Understanding of data analytics and visualization tools like Tableau, Sisense, and more

  • Enthusiasm for working at the intersection of health care and technology

As a health care data analyst, you’ll also need workplace skills (soft skills), such as effective written and verbal communication, creative thinking, interpersonal skills, and time management. Further, knowledge of the health sector, experience with EHR, medical terminology, and medical billing are extremely useful—and can help you land a job more easily.

Because “health care data analyst” can be a broad job title, the specific skills and knowledge you’ll need will depend on the specific job and area of specialization.

To boost your data analytics skills, consider enrolling in Google’s Data Analytics professional certificate program:

Placeholder

professional certificate

Google Data Analytics

This is your path to a career in data analytics. In this program, you’ll learn in-demand skills that will have you job-ready in less than 6 months. No degree or experience required.

4.8

(76,841 ratings)

1,104,552 already enrolled

BEGINNER level

Average time: 6 month(s)

Learn at your own pace

Skills you'll build:

Spreadsheet, Data Cleansing, Data Analysis, Data Visualization (DataViz), SQL, Questioning, Decision-Making, Problem Solving, Metadata, Data Collection, Data Ethics, Sample Size Determination, Data Integrity, Data Calculations, Data Aggregation, Tableau Software, Presentation, R Programming, R Markdown, Rstudio, Job portfolio, case study

How to become a health care data analyst

Say you’re ready to pursue this career field. What are the next steps you’ll need to take? Here’s how to get started.

1. Get a degree or diploma.

Consider getting at least a high school diploma. For most employers, a bachelor’s degree is not a minimum requirement but is regarded favorably. Here’s the degree breakdown, according to Zippia [5]. 

  • Bachelor’s degree: 60%

  • Master’s degree: 22%

  • Associate degree: 9%

  • Doctorate degree: 4%

  • High school diploma: 2%

When choosing a major, you may consider mathematics, science, or IT field. You might also benefit from a healthcare administration degree, as long as you gain technical skills to supplement it.

2. Build your skills in data analytics.

You’ll want to boost your skill set in data analytics. You can do this by taking courses to specifically target the skills you need for a specific job role. It makes more sense to take data analytics and data science courses, rather than health or health care courses because the core skills you’ll need are to maneuver data. 

Consider enrolling in a professional certificate, such as IBM’s Data Analyst program, to ensure you’re building the right skills in a structured setting while setting your own pace.

3. Gain work experience.

Once you feel ready to apply to health care data analyst positions, spruce up your resume with your new skills and any education you’ve received. Scour job sites like LinkedIn for related jobs, and when you find ones that interest you, tailor your resume to each job role. You’ll want to mention any previous health care experience you have.

If you land a data analyst role that is not in health care, don’t fret. You’re still gaining valuable, relevant experience and developing a high-quality skill set that will be easily transferable to the health sector when you have a few years under your belt.

4. Grow your career.

If you have been a data analyst in the health sector and find yourself itching for something new, then you might be ready to advance in your career. Some ways to do that include:

No matter which path you decide to pursue, a career at the intersection of health and technology can be a rewarding and high earning one. 

Data-driven health care with Coursera

If you’re considering becoming a health care data analyst, you might be interested in Columbia University’s class on Health Informatics for Innovation, Value & Enrichment. This 10-hour online training program helps you achieve your specific, role-based career goals by using case scenarios.

Placeholder

course

HI-FIVE: Health Informatics For Innovation, Value & Enrichment (Administrative/IT Perspective)

HI-FIVE (Health Informatics For Innovation, Value & Enrichment) Training is an approximately 10-hour online course designed by Columbia University in 2016, ...

4.7

(122 ratings)

6,481 already enrolled

BEGINNER level

Average time: 1 month(s)

Learn at your own pace

Skills you'll build:

Health Informatics, Value-Based Pricing, Data Analysis, Analytics

Article sources

1

US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Healthcare Occupations, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home.htm.” Accessed September 8, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

Learn without limits