For the past two and a half years, many of us have had out eyes opened to the colossal efforts that must be made across the healthcare industry and the medical supply chain in order to keep the planet’s people safe, happy and healthy. The heroes of the pandemic may have been the doctors and nurses who helped treat the ill and administer vaccines to the healthy, but there are thousands more positions that help to facilitate these acts. Behind all of them are administrators: people who crunch numbers, extract and analyze data, and keep the whole sector working. This article is about how vital this hidden side of medicine is, and what you can do to contribute to it.
Since the advent of computers, we’ve been using software in order to make processes quicker. Often, that software gathers data and processes it in such a way that humans are able to interpret what must be done in a certain task or project. This revolution was slow to hit the healthcare industry, but since it has, it has been the underpinning of all that happens within and behind hospitals and healthcare institutions. Let’s give you an overview of just how varied and fundamental healthcare data is, before we move into the specifics:
- Patient data helps doctors quickly understand the profiles of the patients they’re treating, including past illnesses and hereditary disease risks
- Modern patient data will even use DNA profiling and other advanced health probes to not only treat diseases but to predict them
- Supply chain data can accurately predict when and where medicines and machines will be at what time. This helps healthcare institutions plan vaccine drives and to treat emerging illnesses
- Bed vacancy data can help nurses understand whether there will be space in their facility for further patients, and whether they should move some patients to different wards
- Financial data tracks the spending in different healthcare institutions to ensure that insurers and taxpayers are getting the best value service at all times
The list could go on and on, but you’ll already have a sense of just how pivotal the data collection revolution has been for the healthcare industry. This is a field that is now burdened with so much data that it’s in desperate need of new data scientists and administrators to process it. Hidden within some of this data are insights that could well help drive the next big breakthrough in medical science.
While profits and efficient systems are important for healthcare professionals, it’s patient safety that is always sitting at the top of the agenda. Without providing a good standard of care to their patients, healthcare institutions risk being shut down or completely overhauled. As you’ll know if you already work in the industry, there are targets that must be met and reports that must be filed in order to prove that institutions are working to keep patients safe. There are inquests and tribunals when mistakes are made that threaten the health of patients. Overall patient safety is rightly regarded as the be-all and end-all for healthcare professionals – and a slip-up in this space can be costly.
You might believe that patient safety is mostly underpinned by intelligent and caring doctors and nurses. That’s obviously still the case, but there is so much happening under the surface to help them to provide the best level of care. For instance, healthcare professionals with access to PPE can ensure that they’re less likely to pass diseases from patient to patient. Hospitals without medicinal shortages will be better able to treat a range of illnesses and diseases. Well-staffed hospitals will never be short of nurses and will never host exhausted workers who aren’t operating at their best. All of these factors are underpinned by data administrators who know how to keep a hospital at its equilibrium so that doctors and nurses can perform at their best.
Becoming a Data Expert
With all of this in mind, it’s reasonable to say that healthcare administrators are just as important as the front-line doctors and nurses we’ve been celebrating in the years of the pandemic. They’re the facilitators, setting the stage for the heroics of the medical professionals who treat and care for the ill. That makes a career in healthcare data deeply exciting, because you’ll know that you’ll be contributing to good healthcare outcomes across the board. But how do you become a data expert in the field of healthcare? Well, there are a handful of options for you, which we’ll go through now.
To get to grips with data, you’ll need to study it in depth. You’ll need to know not only how to measure things using data, but also how to extract, process and refine datasets in order to present insights to a team that’ll drive the positive health outcomes highlighted above. All of these skills can be picked up in a data science course, whether at university, at college, or by studying modules online. A degree or a qualification in data science opens you up to a career in many different fields but is certainly applicable to the work done in the back offices of healthcare institutions worldwide.
An alternative option, though, is to focus on medial data from the start. In doing so, you’ll learn how to handle sensitive data responsibly, and how to help the healthcare industry plan for all eventualities, keeping hospitals functioning as safely and efficiently as possible. The online Executive MHA master’s degree is a brilliant way to get into this space, giving you all the skills you need to administer healthcare data and put yourself at the forefront of the continuing revolution in healthcare – which is taking place thanks to advanced data analysis techniques.
Self-Taught Data Analysis
You might also choose to teach yourself about healthcare data. You’ll be able to do this by accessing some of the thousands of online resources that detail all you’ll need to know about what types of healthcare data are in use and what you can do to analyze and present them properly. Data analysis can begin anywhere, whether that’s on a rudimentary spreadsheet or through advanced software that’s designed to help you see between the lines of code in order to derive insights from a wide variety of data sources. YouTube tutorials, free online courses and night classes can all help you get there.
Meanwhile, you may also be interested in narrowing down your areas of interest in order to hone your skills in a particular area of healthcare data administration. You’ll only discover which niche suits you by doing some research, which is easily conducted online. From there, you’ll be able to decide whether you have a passion for making supply chains as friction-free as possible, or whether you’re instead interested in helping hospitals to manage their patients in the best possible way. Find courses, articles, software programs and best-practice guides online to help you hone the specific skills you feel are necessary to work in these spaces.
Finally, another option to help you prepare for a role in healthcare administration is to look up jobs in the field and check the criteria for applying to them. Here, you’ll quickly pick up what it is that you’re expected to know in order to land a job and hit the ground running in a new role. Often, these job postings will require a certificate that proves that you know what you’re doing when it comes to data, and that might mean taking a university course or selecting modules for study that are provided by MOOCs (or massive open online courses). A certificate is often a huge asset when you’re applying for healthcare data administration roles.
You will also discover via job specification details whether you need experience working with a particular suite of software, or other skills that you can build up independently and through other forms of work. If it’s possible, you could download a free trial on the software that is used most often in the field of data analysis that you’re interested in joining. Alternatively, you could join a company that uses similar software so that you can detail this on your resume and in your cover letter when applying for exciting data roles in the healthcare industry.
Getting experience is also a fundamental way in which you’ll learn the ropes as a data analysis expert. You needn’t get this experience in a healthcare institution, though this will of course help you get to grips with the specific challenges of the industry. Alternatively, you could look at jobs that use data but are not related to the healthcare industry. Joining as an apprentice or an intern might mean that you’re not paid a high wage, but it’s certainly an excellent way to make yourself more attractive to employers in the healthcare sector who are looking for some experience from their ideal candidates.
You can find work experience by searching for temporary roles online, by leveraging individuals in your professional network, or by contacting organizations directly with a pitch to become a temporary worker. In whichever case, you’ll want to make the case that you’re going to be an asset rather than a disruptive presence in the office. Try to learn as much as possible during these periods of employment, as they’re not only there to be placed on your resume – they’re also ideal starter jobs for those who are looking to get experience that’ll help them excel in the healthcare data space.
Finding as Job
As mentioned earlier, there is no shortage of jobs in the healthcare data administration space. While this is a job role that is meaningful and rewarding, there are still too few data experts in the offices of healthcare institutions, and that means that you shouldn’t necessarily struggle to find a job. You’ll of course have to meet eligibility criteria, but there’s no need to shy away from applying to certain jobs if you don’t meet every single point. Employers are aware that they are hiring from a diverse pool and that people come to them from all walks of life. If you’re missing a small amount of specific experience, they might still value all of your other experience.
In your cover letter, make sure you’re highlighting all that you can offer employers. Don’t shy away from mentioning gaps in your experience that you’re excited to fill while you’re learning the ropes in the new job. Being honest about your abilities will make you seem honest and trustworthy, which are key traits that employers of all stripes are looking for, especially healthcare employers. Once you’ve found a handful of jobs to apply for, set aside a day to write cover letters that will make you out to be the ideal candidate for the advertised roles.
Leveraging Your Skills For Good
The reason so many people are attracted to a career in healthcare data administration is simple. Rather than analyzing other sources of data that might have little impact on people’s lives, this is a field that has a direct impact across the healthcare sector. However, minor your role, you’ll be leveraging your skills to help people remain healthier, happier, and safer in the healthcare industry. As you progress in your career, you’ll also have the opportunity to make progress in your area of healthcare, which may ultimately mean you’ve changed the healthcare landscape for the better.
If you’re still interested in learning about what you might be able to work on as a data administrator in the healthcare space, do research the courses available online to see what they can teach you and why those skills are so important for the industry. If you’re still in doubt about how healthcare data is changing lives and livelihoods, just search for the case studies and stories that go to show that the forthcoming medical breakthroughs are all going to take place in the data space.
There you have it: the core reasons why data administration is so crucial for the healthcare industry, and why working in it yourself could be so rewarding and fulfilling.