When looking at a job title, some positions are pretty self-explanatory. Managers manage. Assistants assist. Cooks cook. But what do data analysts really analyze? It is impossible for one person or even a large group of people to analyze all the data that is available within their company and industry. That’s why we employ computers and have programs that help filter out the parts of the information that aren’t needed or relevant at a specific moment. To give you an idea of what a data analyst faces in the whole realm of information out there, it is estimated that we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. That is 2.5 followed by 17 zeros. No one person; no one industry deals with all that data at once. However, the healthcare industry is a large contributor to those massive amounts of bytes that are created.
Someone that is interested in the field of healthcare data analytics has to be familiar with the information technology (IT) side of things, but also must be well-versed in clinical and healthcare terminology and settings. As listed on Salary.com, some of the requirements and responsibilities of a typical business data analyst include, “Interprets results using a variety of techniques, ranging from simple data aggregation via statistical analysis to complex data mining independently.
Designs, develops, implements and maintains business solutions. Provides tutorship to junior analysts. Familiar with a variety of the field’s concepts, practices, and procedures. Relies on extensive experience and judgment to plan and accomplish goals. A wide degree of creativity and latitude is expected.” With the addition of fundamental knowledge or experience within healthcare policies and procedures, you can begin to understand the complexities that the healthcare industry has to deal with.
Maybe none of this information really interests you, and you are definitely not changing careers to become a healthcare data analyst. What is important and very beneficial is what those in this chosen career do for you and me. There are very few people that when they visit a doctor’s office or hospital want to find their medical record file or create a new one. Then, you absolutely don’t want to take the time to organize your information within a database or data warehouse so that it will be accessible for short- and long-term needs. These analysts help in the “importing, cleaning, transforming, validating or modeling healthcare data with the purpose of understanding or making inferences for decision or management purposes.”
In some respect, the analysts are like the wizard behind the curtain; they have implicit knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes and how it runs. However, pulling the curtain back doesn’t necessarily give you the insight into what is happening. In fact, most of us would rather trust that those experienced people know what they are doing and let them work their magic.
Their magic makes it possible for us as patients to have our medical records readily available when we show up for any medical treatments. They also make it possible for the variety of reports that need to be produced to be done so in a concise manner. Just like you don’t want to read pages and pages of excess materials when all you want to know is the best place to find deep-dish pizza, the same goes when creating a financial overview for a clinic. Height and weight of all patients only would be distracting and useless when deciding budgets. Being able to parse out particular data points helps an office or hospital to run more efficiently.
We have seen leaps and bounds in the technology that has been adapted and adopted by the healthcare industry. There is an expectation that most ailments and illnesses should be able to be treated and cured. Though this isn’t completely true yet, the ability that doctors have to find and treat us is quite amazing. The recorded details of not only our own individual processes, but everyone else that visits is stored for future reference.
Even the government wants to know many of the specifics that are happening within communities and across the country; that is how we find out how many people have severe cases of the flu. These numbers aren’t just pulled out of thin air or notched on a wall, but are recorded and then accessed to provide accounts of current well-being of a population.
Healthcare data analysis may not seem like a significant or difficult job on the surface, but their knowledge, experience and expertise make them a vital instrument within the healthcare industry and population health management. They make it possible to enjoy a more smoothly moving appointment and data that is helpful for a population as a whole.