While the fields of clinical data management and health data analytics often deal with the same information and, in fact, often overlap, there are major distinctions between the two. These distinctions are important, especially for students and professionals considering careers within health informatics.
Clinical data management (CDM), according to The Global Health Network, “is the collection, integration and validation of clinical trial data.” The data can come from electronic health records, insurance claims, surveys, registries of patients and diseases and other sources.
Clinical data managers are involved with the data at all stages from inception to completion. Their work can include designing case report forms and databases, data entry and medical coding.
Among their other duties are cleaning, or preparing, data to be included in a database, creating backup copies of data and providing access to others in the organization.
CDM research is vital for the medical field. It can greatly reduce the time between a drug’s development and its marketing.
Health data analytics, on the other hand, focuses on discovering what information can be drawn from and conclusions reached using the data gathered. This data most often is derived from electronic health records.
A health data analyst’s duties can vary depending on the role of her or his employer. For example, some medical data analysts focus on how patient data corresponds to larger trends for the organization’s method of treatment. Others may use patient data to monitor quality of care or to track trends in a particular disease and its treatment and costs.
Health data analysts use data to prepare reports for supervisors or healthcare directors. They also might prepare reports for medical investigators or organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or those focused on specific diseases like cancer. Analysts also prepare presentations on their outcomes for physicians and others in the healthcare field.
Both health data analysts and clinical data managers require in-depth knowledge of the medical field and its terminology. Both also need backgrounds in the technical areas of their posts: A manager’s skill set usually includes storage methods and database design, while analysts are well-versed in statistics and research.
According to Andrew Karp, software consultant with SAS, organizations get the most value when managers and analysts work together, “often in the same organizational unit.”
In an article on Quora.com, Karp writes that the two professions’ “roles are highly complementary and critical to the success of an organization’s efforts to get value from their data.”