How to Become a Health Data Analyst: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Find out how to become a health data analyst. Research the education requirements, and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in health data analysis.

Do I Want to Be a Health Data Analyst?

Health data analysts develop, analyze, model and document healthcare information related to insurance claims and costs. They use software and statistics to provide data support, solve issues, perform research and improve information quality and accuracy. Many of these workers spend a great deal of time sitting and viewing computer monitors. Jobs are typically full-time, and some evening or weekend hours may be needed.

Job Requirements

Most of these analysts have a bachelor's degree in health informatics or health information management and professional experience in the healthcare field. The following table contains some of the most common requirements for health data analysts:

Common Requirements
Degree Level Bachelor's degree preferred*
Degree Field Health informatics, health information management*
Experience2-5 years of related experience*
Certification Certification is available through AHIMA but is optional**
Key Skills Ability to work independently, strong organization, computer, analytical, mathematics and communication skills*
Computer Skills Knowledge of SQL Server, MS Access, Excel, PowerPoint, SQL, Visual Studio (RDL creation), SSRS, SSIS, SSAS, EZ Cap, NextGen, Business Objects, Crystal Reports, SharePoint*
Technical Skills Knowledge of CPT/HCPCS, ICD-9 and NDC coding procedures; DRG, APC, APG, CCS, ETG and CRG claims classification groupers; and Medicare and Medicaid procedures*

Sources: *Job postings from multiple employers (January 2013),** American Health Information Management Association.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor's degree program in health information management or health informatics can help prepare students for a career in health data analysis. Some schools offer programs that combine health information management and informatics. These programs may include coursework in anatomy and physiology, healthcare laws and ethics, medical terminology, database design, electronic medical records, coding procedures and health information technology. Most schools require applicants to have a high school diploma or GED to enroll.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience

Most health data analysts need at least 2 years of healthcare-related work experience. A position in medical economics, health information technology, medical office administration or managed care finance can provide the software and data management skills necessary for a health data analysis position. Once candidates have required experience, they can seek employment as health data analysts at health benefits or data information companies, as well as state public health centers.

Step 3: Get Certified

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers a certified health data analyst (CHDA) exam that provides distinction and proof of competency in the field. Requirements vary, but include having a bachelor's degree combined with 3 years of professional experience. Applicants must pass a written exam to become certified.

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