Healthcare Provides Opportunity for Business Intelligence Professionals

a man and a woman standing at a wall of monitors with scatterplots and line charts on them

November 29, 2018

Over the last decade, the prevalence and importance of healthcare analytics have become clear. An ever-growing number of hospitals and care facilities have implemented the use of analytics platforms and tools and hired the professionals necessary to manage them.

Healthcare can be an intimidating field for someone whose background comes from an IT or non-healthcare business intelligence role. However, if the last few years have shown us anything, it’s that the growth of the healthcare analytics market is not slowing and the applications of analytics in the medical field are diverse.

This development has brought a tremendous opportunity for business analysts to make a career shift toward healthcare. The industry needs people who can help streamline facility operations and tie clinical outcomes to financial efficiency in ways that drive success as the shift toward a value-based care model takes shape across the industry.

But it isn’t just analysts that are in need.

HIMSS Calls for Problem Solvers

A 2017 article from HIMSS highlights the need for analytics professionals who are willing to roll up their sleeves and get into the nitty-gritty details of the analysis and insights a facility needs to better address its operational inefficiencies.

Analysts are often cast as number crunchers who sit in front of screens throughout their day. While data integrity matters, the growing consensus in recent years has been to focus on what to do with that data.

The ability of analysts to observe situations, refine data collection processes and ultimately create insightful reporting that can inform decisions to improve processes and treatments has a major impact on the organization. In this way, data analysts are becoming more integrated into the leadership paradigm.

“All of a sudden, everyone can contribute to the decision-making process,” James Gaston, senior director, Healthcare Advisory Services Group for HIMSS Analytics said in the article. “To me, that’s exciting. You don’t have to spend 20 years in a field to be qualified to have an opinion anymore. Now, you can be a part of the team and help make good decisions by observing, collecting and analyzing data, and understanding what’s going on.”

Where do these problem solvers come from? Well, in truth, they can come from many fields with a variety of educational experiences, from computer science and engineering to healthcare administration or math. The important thing is that, in the end, they understand healthcare as an industry from both a policy and process point of view.

Where an MSHI Healthcare Analytics Degree Comes In

As the HIMSS article notes, a skilled and well-supported analytics labor force is a primary component of moving current analytics efforts from reactive reporting to proactive analysis. Educational programs that can prepare this labor force for the challenges that healthcare faces are essential.

In developing its Master of Science in Health Informatics with a concentration in Healthcare Analytics, USF Health has aspired to address that need. It aims to better prepare analysts in a healthcare setting with the ability to create effective visualizations, understand legal aspects of health information systems and to provide effective healthcare decision support, data mining and predictive analytics.

The coursework is designed in so that it doesn’t matter whether you’re coming from an analytics background that includes business experience or you’re a healthcare professional looking to move into analytics. USF Health’s goal is to prepare you to play an important role in instigating data-driven decision making in the healthcare setting.

The Business Side of Healthcare

The consumerization of healthcare is a hot topic these days as tech giants become more involved in healthcare’s approach to data and patient engagement. If patients are consumers, then naturally, care organizations begin to act more like businesses.

From financial reports and projections to personnel management, there is room for business administrators in healthcare who possess some level of understanding of various care interactions and environments across a given facility. They are being charged with lowering healthcare costs as the revenue curve for health systems is flattening, according to a report from Health Catalyst.

That’s a tall order at a time when healthcare spending per capita is extremely high. But in looking at costs related to waste, excessive staff, inconsistencies in treatment methods, length of stay and other quality measures that accountable care organizations are targeting, costs can be curbed to maximize revenue generation and reward organizations that streamline processes for improved outcomes.

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