What Is a Medical Data Analyst?

Research what it takes to become a medical data analyst. Learn about the duties of this job, the education requirements and salary range to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Health Informatics degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Medical Data Analyst?

Medical data analysts, commonly known as health information technicians, organize and track medical records for healthcare facilities. They make sure that patient data is accurate, and they input it into databases, where it can be analyzed for service quality and insurance reimbursement purposes. In addition, they ensure the confidentiality of sensitive medical information. Some medical data analysts choose to specialize in a particular area of the field, such as cancer treatment.

The following chart provides an overview of the education, job outlook and average salary in this field.

Degree Required Certificate or associate's degree
Education Field of Study Health information technology, medical coding, billing, accounting, human anatomy and physiology
Key Responsibilities Collect, organize, record and store patients' medical information; code and bill for medical services
Certification Voluntary but preferred by employers
Job Growth (2014-28) 11% for all medical records and health information technicians*
Mean Annual Salary (2018) $44,010 for all medical records and health information technicians*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Job Duties of a Medical Data Analyst?

Medical data analysts are also referred to as medical records technicians, health information technicians and medical coders. If you are interested in taking on any of these titles, your primary work would be to maintain medical records within a hospital, physician's office or other healthcare facility.

As a medical data analyst, you gather, organize and maintain patient information, including medical histories, examination results and suggested treatments. You may also be responsible for coding information so that it can be transferred to insurance companies for billing purposes. Many healthcare facilities use electronic health records (EHR) to help with the sorting and storing of medical data. As a medical data analyst, you are responsible for operating EHR systems.

What Education Will I Need?

You can choose to complete a certificate program or an associate's degree program to prepare for a career as a medical data analyst. Some applicable programs include those related to health information technology as well as medical coding and billing. Such programs are often available at 2-year community colleges, technical schools and vocational schools.

While enrolled in a certificate or associate's degree program in health information technology, you learn the basics of management information systems, ICD-9-HM healthcare coding systems and healthcare reimbursement methodologies. You also gain a basic overview of human anatomy and physiology, medical terminology and basic human diseases.

What Certification Can I Achieve?

You don't need certification to work as a medical data analyst. However, many employers in the healthcare field do choose to hire those data analysts who have credentials in the field. You can earn the credential of Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) from the American Health Information Management Association by completing a 2-year associate's degree program as well as a written examination. The Board of Medical Specialty Coding and the American Academy of Professional Coders both also offer designations for medical coders.

What Salary Will I Earn?

As of 2015, medical data analysts and health information technicians held about 208,650 jobs in the country, with 11 percent job growth expected from 2018-2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). These technicians earned a mean annual salary of $44,010. While most were employed at hospitals, physician's offices, nursing care facilities, management of companies and enterprises and outpatients care centers. The top-paying industries for health information technicians, including medical data analysts, were pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing and insurance carriers.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Aside from data analysis, another medical office career option is a job as a medical secretary. In this job, you would schedule patient appointments, handle insurance issues and answer phones. Although no formal education is required, completing a postsecondary program can improve your job prospects. Alternatively, you could become a medical transcriptionist, where you would use specialized software to convert audio recordings made by doctors into text formats. This job usually requires the completion of a postsecondary certificate or diploma program.

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