Why you should consider a career in healthcare analytics
(And what you need to know to get started)
Pursuing a career in healthcare analytics can be both rewarding and exciting. While professionals working in healthcare analytics don’t typically work directly with patients, the work they do has the potential to improve health care, manage risks and improve patient outcomes. Healthcare analytics is also an essential tool for understanding new viruses and navigating public health crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
We sat down with epidemiologist Erin Griffin, a retired UC Davis School of Medicine research scientist and a former instructor in UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education’s Healthcare Analytics Certificate Program, for her insight on healthcare data analytics, why it’s so important and what you need to know if you’re considering a career in the industry.
“The ability to analyze data requires ethics, general EQ, team work, responsibility, trust, transparency and a very high level of professionalism.”
Here are a few takeaways:
Quality healthcare data is essential for evidence-based practice.
Healthcare Industry Outlook
Employment in healthcare occupations is projected to grow 13% from 2021-2031, resulting in about 2 million new jobs.
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Quality data and analytics are the essential tools for understanding predictors of health outcomes, surveillance, trends, and risk and protective factors. We can’t get that subjectively, anecdotally or without accounting for the many influences that contribute to health outcomes. As an applied data scientist and researcher, my interest is in continuous quality improvement to inform progress. I like to think of it as a life cycle—asking a question, gathering appropriate data, conducting analyses, then telling the story. The story helps us understand where and how changes to programs or interventions make sense, which leads to new questions.
Data literacy is key.
Data literacy is a core competency for healthcare leaders. The Data Literacy Project says that only one-third of us can confidently understand, analyze and argue with data. Healthcare leaders need the skills to quickly and reliably interpret, explain and draw conclusions from data and analyses. The data do not ‘say’ anything; people do. Evidence-based conclusions always come with limitations and context that must be clearly and accurately communicated to ensure that subsequent actions and investments are justified and on point.
Be a student of the data.
COVID-19 was tricky for epidemiologists. While a lot is known about how epidemics tend to behave, less is known about pandemics in general, and even less about this pandemic when it first came to light. Statistical modeling is a powerful tool for increasing understanding of phenomena we have seen before. For novel outbreaks like COVID-19, we began with little knowledge and no real-time data. As data accumulated, we increasingly understood the role of risk and protective factors, the effectiveness of interventions—such as social distancing, masks and hand hygiene—how to leverage testing to inform public health interventions and how to care for patients.
Data analytics is booming.
Considering a Career in Healthcare Analytics?
If you're seeking employment or career advancement as a clinical or operational analyst in health care, contact Enrollment Coach Cathy Zhao. She can work with you one-on-one to answer your questions and make sure the Healthcare Analytics Certificate Program is right for you.
This is an opportune time for healthcare leaders to increase data literacy. There is great need. For the analytically inclined, there are literally endless opportunities to develop and enhance skills. Entry points include traditional routes of statistics, statistical programming and presentation, in addition to rapidly evolving specialties in data visualization, GIS, AI and more. Blending these approaches is extremely gratifying, as we are moving beyond simple tables and charts to dynamic, intuitive methods for communicating vast amounts of information in ways that are engaging and thought provoking.
Be a change maker.
The UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education Healthcare Analytics Certificate Program provides an excellent introduction to the field. It teaches you about macro data and getting out in the world and using it. These are boots-on-the-ground analysts who need competency, good communication skills and data literacy. The certificate program gives you the foundation to become a really good generalist and puts you on the path to become an expert and specialize in statistics or data visualization. It positions you to start a career that will never ever be static.