Health Data Analyst

Hospitals, doctors’ offices, clinics, public health offices, and government agencies strive to make data-driven decisions about patient care, management, and even expenses. However, gathering and synthesizing the necessary data isn’t always straightforward. Turning it into usable information that can be used to make decisions is even more complicated. This is why the role of a health data analyst is essential.

Health data analysts use their knowledge of management, data acquisition, analysis, and interpretation to provide actionable insights that physicians, senior staff, and researchers can use. Insights can include everything from how to best care for patients to the profitability of building a new hospital wing and even best billing practices for prompt payment. Health data analysts gather data from all kinds of electronic health records, including client visit summaries, billing details, and satisfaction surveys.

Education is critical to becoming a health data analyst. Professionals in this field have earned at least a bachelor’s degree, although a master’s degree is highly desirable. Classes students are required to take include leadership, programming, data management, and statistics. Certification as a Certified Health Data Analyst (CHDA) through the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) is optional, although many employers require it.

This career is excellent for curious and detail-oriented problem-solvers. Continue reading to learn how to enter this number-crunching career.

Health Data Analyst Specializations & Degree Types

There are several degrees aspiring health data analysts can earn. A bachelor’s degree in health informatics or health information management can be sufficient for entry-level work in this field.

Professionals seeking advancement or more senior roles may need to pursue a master’s degree or higher. The most common master’s degrees earned in this field are in health information management or health informatics. More specialized health information management master’s degrees, such as the master’s of science in quantitative biomedical sciences degree offered at Dartmouth, are available to professionals looking to enter a more specialized area.

Admissions Requirements for Health Data Analyst Programs

Bachelor’s degree programs for health data analysts require applicants to have completed high school or obtained a GED. Other admission requirements may include having a minimum high school GPA, submitting an essay, and providing letters of recommendation. Some bachelor’s degree programs in health information management or health informatics are the final two years of the degree program. These programs require students to have completed a general education and prerequisite coursework prior to admission. It can be as many as 60 semester-credit-hours or more.

Admission requirements to health data analyst master’s degree programs are more stringent than undergraduate programs. Requirements often include completing a bachelor’s degree, GRE test scores, a statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, a minimum undergraduate GPA, a current resume, and completing a comprehensive application. International students may need to prove English proficiency through a TOEFL or IELTS test score.

Health Data Analyst Program Accreditation

Students should ensure the program they attend is accredited to guarantee that the education received meets or exceeds quality standards. Health data analyst programs can be either regionally accredited or programmatically accredited. Regional accreditation is through one of main accreditation agencies recognized by the US Department of Education’s Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

Programmatic or national accreditation for health data analyst programs is through the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). Attending a CAHIIM accredited school is required for students who wish to earn the certification of Certified Health Data Analyst (CHDA) through the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).

On-Campus Health Data Analyst Degree Programs

University of Washington – School of Public Health

Students can complete a bachelor of science (BS) in health informatics and health information management at the University of Washington School of Public Health. This two-year program is for students who have already completed their first two years of a bachelor’s degree at UW or another accredited institution. Graduates of this program will have the skills to synthesize data to help medical providers deliver better and more cost-effective care.

Classes in this program are only two days a week and start in the late afternoon allowing students the opportunity to work or meet family obligations while completing their degree. Required coursework includes healthcare language, health data analytics, clinical documentation and revenue management, and finance concepts for healthcare managers. Upon completion of the program, graduates are eligible to sit for the RHIA certification exam.

  • Location: Seattle, WA
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM)
  • Tuition: $418 per credit-hour

Dartmouth College – Geisel School of Medicine

The master’s of science in quantitative biomedical sciences degree at the Dartmouth College Geisel School of Medicine is a unique program that combines biomedicine, population health, healthcare, academia, and big data.

Aspiring health analysts can choose a health data science concentration that focuses on biostatistics, machine learning, and data visualization in healthcare. Graduates will have the skills to use data to model disease outcomes, evaluate the efficacy of patient care, and improve efficiency within organizations. This program is completed in an average of five semesters.

Cohorts in this program are capped at 15 students ensuring a personalized and intimate educational setting. Attendance in this program is full-time and students are required to complete 18 courses as well as a capstone project. While many graduates go on to work as health data analysts, they have enough specialized training and education to become health data scientists making them valuable hires for any health care facility.

  • Location: Hanover, NH
  • Duration: 15 months
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Tuition: $20,024 per semester

Online or Hybrid Health Data Analyst Degree Programs

University of Wisconsin Extended Campus

Students who have already completed the first two years of a bachelor’s degree program can earn a bachelor of science in health information management and technology (HIMT) through the University of Wisconsin Extended Campus. Courses are offered asynchronously, allowing students to complete their homework or watch lectures anywhere they have internet. Aspiring health data analysts can choose to concentrate in health information technology, where they will learn programming and data structures, security, and storage.

There are only 17 required courses to complete this program, for a total of 61 semester-credit-hours. To graduate, students must complete a capstone project during which they complete a semester-long health information technology project at an internship site. Most of these sites are in Wisconsin; however, there are six sites spread across the country.

  • Location: Madison, WI
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM)
  • Tuition: $440 per credit

Drexel University – College of Computing and Informatics

Drexel University’s College of Computing and Informatics offers both a healthcare informatics certificate and a master’s of science in health informatics. Both programs are offered exclusively online. The certificate program can be an entry point for completing the master’s program and is designed for professionals who want to increase their knowledge about health informatics. The master’s program prepares students to be health data analysts or hold more advanced positions such as chief medical information officer, clinical analyst, or health informatics director.

Classes are taught across several departments, and students can anticipate taking courses in Drexel’s College of Nursing and Health Professions, the Dornsife School of Public Health, and the LeBow College of Business.

Required classes include human-computer interaction, introduction to data analytics, managing health informatics projects, and more. This program’s admission requirements include a 3.0 undergraduate GPA, GRE scores, a completed bachelor’s degree, a letter of recommendation, and a statement of purpose.

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Duration: Two to three years
  • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM)
  • Tuition: $1,342 per credit-hour

How Long Does it Take to Become a Health Data Analyst?

Professionals can begin a career as entry-level health data analysts with as little as two years of education post-high school. However, the classes required for a bachelor’s or master’s degree will allow students to pursue more senior or specialized jobs.

How To Become a Health Data Analyst – Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Graduate from High School or Complete a GED (Four Years)

The first step towards becoming a health data analyst is obtaining a high school diploma or GED. This demonstrates a minimum level of education and also shows dedication towards completing a course of study. Also, most bachelor’s degree programs require applicants to have completed high school or have a GED. Students who wish to pursue a health data analysis career should focus on classes such as math, science, and programming.

Step 2: Complete a Bachelor’s Degree Program (Four Years)

Health data analysts must earn at least a bachelor’s degree. The most common majors pursued induce health information management and health informatics. Electives such as business, marketing, advanced math, and psychology can help students have a well-rounded education that can help make them desirable team members.

Step 3: Earn a Master’s Degree (Optional, Timeline Varies)

Completing a master’s degree is optional for a career as a health data analyst. The most common master’s degrees earned are a master’s in health informatics or health information management. Either of these degrees can qualify a graduate to sit for the Certified Health Data Analyst (CHDA) through the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). Other masters earned can include specialized programs such as bioinformatics or in health data science.

Step 4: Earn a Health Data Analyst Certification (Optional, Timeline Varies)

While it is not required for health data analysts to be certified, it is highly recommended and required by many employers. The primary certification earned is the Certified Health Data Analyst (CHDA) through the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). Details on how to qualify for this certification can be found below.

What Do Health Data Analysts Do?

Health data analysts work for hospitals, health systems, insurance companies, health technology vendors, large clinical practices, state and federal agencies, public health, and consulting companies. Job duties vary based on place of employment, population served, and education obtained, but typical day to day responsibilities include:

  • Organizing and maintaining clinical database and registries
  • Collecting data from patient records
  • Writing automated internal and external reporting systems to have a constant flow of new data
  • Using machine learning and programming to determine patterns in data collected
  • Interpreting the data and drawing conclusions based on the analysis
  • Summarizing data, analysis, and conclusions into reports senior staff can use to make decisions
  • Making recommendations for policy changes based on data gathered and analyzed
  • Running data models to help senior staff make decisions such as merging with another clinic, building a new hospital wing, or hiring more staff

Health Data Analyst Certifications & Licensure

Certification for health data analysts is voluntary, although it is highly recommended as many employers require it. Earning a certification demonstrates to employers that a candidate has attained a high level of competency and education in health information management and technology.

The primary certification earned by health data analysts is a Certified Health Data Analyst (CHDA) through the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).

To be eligible to sit for the CHDA certification, candidates must meet one of the following qualifications:

  • Hold a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) credential and have three years of healthcare data experience
  • Have earned a bachelor’s degree and have a minimum of three years of healthcare data experience
  • Hold the Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) credential
  • Complete a master’s in health information management (HIM) or health informatics from an accredited school
  • Complete a master’s degree or higher in any field and have one year of healthcare data experience

Currently, there are no state or federal licensing requirements for health data analysts.

How Much Do Health Data Analysts Make?

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2019) classifies health data analysts as either medical records and health information technicians at the entry-level or as medical and health service managers for those with more experience or advanced degrees. According to the BLS, technicians earn $46,590 per year on average, while managers earn $115,160 per year.

The percentiles for wages are:

Medical records and health information technicians

  • 10th percentile: $27,820
  • 25th percentile: $33,760
  • 50th percentile (median): $42,630
  • 75th percentile: $56,000
  • 90th percentile: $71,150

Medical and health service managers

  • 10th percentile: $58,820
  • 25th percentile: $76,770
  • 50th percentile (median): $100,980
  • 75th percentile: $133,520
  • 90th percentile: $189,000
Kimmy Gustafson

Kimmy Gustafson

Writer

Kimmy is a freelance writer with extensive experience writing about healthcare careers and education. She has worked in public health, at health-focused nonprofits, and as a Spanish interpreter for doctor’s offices and hospitals. She has a passion for learning and that drives her to stay up to date on the latest trends in healthcare. When not writing or researching, she can be found pursuing her passions of nutrition and an active outdoors lifestyle.

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