Healthcare business analysts combine advanced skills in management, finance, research, and data analysis and manipulation toward the overarching goal of improving the operations of organizations such as hospitals and hospices. They are a subset of management analysts, who generally look for ways to optimize the operational efficiency of companies of all types.
In addition to business processes, healthcare business analysts may also review financial statements as well as an organization’s current practices for managing patients’ electronic health records (EHRs). The increasing importance of EHRs in the healthcare domain has fueled the concurrent growth of the health informatics field, in which healthcare business analysts may specialize.
Health informatics may also be known as health information systems, and it is one of the common concentrations for students seeking careers as healthcare business analysts. Others include business, management, and healthcare-related fields such as nursing and public health. A healthcare-focused Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) degree, while not formally required in most cases, can provide the comprehensive expertise needed for competing for analyst positions, especially those at the senior level.
What do healthcare business analysts do?
The job spec for a healthcare business analyst can vary considerably from one health organization to another. That said, most listings for this position share some common responsibilities, including but not limited to:
- Gathering, organizing and evaluating relevant information, such as financial statements, vendor contracts and EHR system specifications.
- Communicating with internal and external stakeholders and conducting interviews as necessary to understand current practices and determine possible areas for improvement.
- Analyzing company revenue, profits and losses, along with current employment levels, to make recommendations about how to realize savings and make business process improvements.
- Drawing up alternative plans and solutions for possible implementation, e.g., zeroing in on a new EHR provider or recommending technology to help with system interoperability.
- Assisting with project management at multiple stages, including the research, testing and implementation of new systems and products; may also guide software development.
- Performing technical tasks such as creating business requirements documents, user training manuals and guides, and requirements traceability matrices.
- Delivering written and verbal presentations to an organization’s leadership to communicate key findings and updates on business process adjustments.
- Conducting in-depth data analysis, using spreadsheets or more specialized tools such as project management software and traceability solutions.
- Periodically reviewing the progress of any recommended and implemented changes to see if they’re still on track, and repeating the above steps as needed to ensure continuous improvement.
As we can see, the duties of a healthcare business analyst are potentially wide-ranging. A fundamental level of financial acumen and analytical ability is necessary for success in this position, along with strong communication skills and possibly some technical expertise, too. Healthcare business analysts may need to be proficient with tools such as Microsoft Excel and SharePoint, SQL, R, Apache Hive, Hadoop, data visualization and dashboard solutions, and software development practices like agile and waterfall.
Healthcare business analysts specializing in health informatics will usually have more technical job descriptions than those focused on general management-related tasks. Let’s briefly look at what analysts can expect in a health informatics career.
What is health informatics?
Health informatics ― alternatively, healthcare informatics and health or healthcare information systems ― encompasses the management of healthcare data to improve collaboration and patient outcomes across an organization. Because the informatics field is pivotal to organizational efficiency, it is naturally an important focus area for some healthcare business analysts.
Informatics-focused analysts may conduct tasks such as:
- Ensuring proper and secure handling of EHRs and other clinical and operational data
- Identifying and troubleshooting system malfunctions and general shortcomings
- Discarding unnecessary information and fixing incorrect items to promote data integrity
- Maintaining databases and other technologies directly involved in record storage, retrieval and distribution
- Gathering and understanding business requirements for new projects
- Developing algorithms and analytical methodologies to support data reporting and analysis
Healthcare business analysts who work in health informatics have a narrower, more technical focus than their peers who work instead in areas such as finance and personnel management. Demand for informatics-related expertise has risen steadily alongside the overall growth of EHR solutions, which have made information management more complex within the entire healthcare domain. According to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, adoption of basic EHR systems rose from only 9.4% of non-federal acute care hospitals in 2008 to 83.8% in 2015.
How do you become a healthcare business analyst?
For the most part, healthcare business analyst positions require at least a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, along with experience working in a healthcare environment. A degree in healthcare, business, nursing, administration or public health will be appropriate in most cases.
As mentioned earlier, a healthcare-oriented MBA program is one of the most efficient paths for acquiring comprehensive expertise and experience for a healthcare business analyst position. The online Healthcare MBA (HCMBA) from the George Washington University (GW) offers a core curriculum in topics such as accounting, finance and management, along with a flexible selection of electives and graduate certificates for students who want to build more specialized expertise in healthcare.
For health informatics-centric positions, degree requirements may be slightly different. Due to the closer focus on data analysis and manipulation, employers may look for candidates with a background in mathematics, statistics, computer science or data science.
All students and professionals interested in becoming a healthcare business analyst should also have either some working experience or a comparable educational background. For example, individuals who have worked in hospitals, managed care organizations or administered health plans will likely have the requisite qualifications for being considered for a business analyst role.
Professional certifications are not required in most instances. However, the Certified Business Analysis Professional and the Certified Management Consultant credentials may be advantageous for landing specific roles since they indicate competency in relevant areas.
How much does a healthcare business analyst make?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) considers healthcare business analysts part of the management analyst profession. As of 2019, median pay for this occupation was $85,260 per year. There were 876,300 people employed as management analysts in 2018, and that number is expected to increase sharply from 2018 to 2028. The projected growth rate for management analysts from 2018 to 2028 is 14%, or much faster than the 5% average for all occupations.
Salary data from Glassdoor estimates the average base pay of a healthcare business analyst at more than $65,000. Health informatics analysts typically make slightly more, at $73,110 annually.
Overall, the aging of the U.S. population and the rising demand for healthcare services should sustain the demand for healthcare business analysts, while organizations seeking efficiency gains will continue to need management analysts more generally. The GW HCMBA program can be your gateway to a managerial career in healthcare, whether you’re coming from a background in business or in healthcare. Learn more by visiting the program overview page today.
What MBA Focus Should You Pursue?
What Kinds of Companies Need Healthcare Consultants
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Management Analysts
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology: Adoption of Electronic Health Record Systems among U.S. Non-Federal Acute Care Hospitals: 2008-2015
Glassdoor: Health Informatics Analyst Salaries
Glassdoor: Healthcare Business Analyst Salaries