Are you interested in pursuing a business career within the healthcare field? If so, there are a wide variety of occupations that can allow you to leverage your knowledge, skills and experience to improve medical facilities and their patient services. From finance to supply chain management, business-savvy professionals play a key role in hospital administration, helping keep costs low while ensuring caregivers can provide the highest-quality service possible. One such role is that of a business healthcare analyst, whose primary responsibilities include locating areas of improvement and maximizing medical facilities’ performance and profit. But what do business healthcare analysts’ job descriptions look like, what qualifications are needed and how can students gain a competitive edge during the application process? Let’s dive in:
What is a healthcare business analyst?
Healthcare business analysts serve a range of critical functions in medical facilities, meaning many positions will have different responsibilities based on the organization’s specific needs. That said, professionals in this field are largely focused on utilizing healthcare data to generate actionable insights that help facilities operate more efficiently. Using their specialized knowledge in data analysis, management, finance and IT systems, healthcare business analysts empower physicians, hospital administrators and other clinical staff to make sound administrative decisions. They also carefully monitor medical facilities’ financial operations – supply costs, overtime wages, medical billing, etc. – to optimize spending and ward off resource shortages.
Much like other business analysis positions, healthcare business analysts rely on their critical thinking skills and financial management expertise to ensure their organization is both productive and profitable. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, professionals in this role may be required to perform the following tasks as part of their daily routine:
- Collecting and organizing data on facility expenses.
- Identifying opportunities to reduce operating costs or improve procedures.
- Collaborating with clinical personnel to understand key services, processes and equipment.
- Analyzing financial data to maximize revenue and reduce expenditures.
- Recommending new processes and organizational changes to help maximize spending.
- Creating detailed financial reports and presentations for executive decision-makers.
There is, of course, a major difference between entry-level healthcare business analysts jobs and those that require years of experience in real-world settings. When first starting out, business analysts are often assigned tasks that relate to a specific area of medical operations. Additionally, any solutions they develop would need to be formally vetted by upper management before an action could be taken. For example, if a healthcare business analyst was asked to look into reducing supply costs, they would first need approval to negotiate with vendors or switch to a different provider. As professionals advance their careers, however, they tend to have more oversight and control over their organizations’ financial decisions.
How to become a healthcare business analyst
Pursuing healthcare business analyst jobs usually starts with obtaining a bachelor’s degree in business administration, healthcare management or another related field. These types of undergraduate degrees offer insight into how businesses (including medical facilities and healthcare organizations) optimize their operations, service quality and long-term profitability. Candidates with a Master of Science in Business Analytics are often better positioned to take on higher-level roles involving big data analysis, which are growing in demand thanks to the rapid expansion of healthcare technologies, according to the International Institute of Business Analytics. Now, more than ever, healthcare companies need talented and driven business professionals to help improve patient outcomes, streamline back-end administrative tasks and integrate value-adding IT into medical settings.
Since a healthcare business analyst sometimes acts as a mediator between other business professionals and medical staff, communication and interpersonal skills are essential. Business analysts must also be able to manage their schedules effectively and locate actionable solutions to time-sensitive problems. This is often achieved through the use of advanced data analysis tools and IT systems, making a strong foundation in business technologies crucial for building a successful career. The more experience an applicant has with healthcare data and reporting tools, the more competitive they will be during their job hunt.
Graduate students with a focus on business analytics sometimes struggle to gain real-world experience in healthcare settings, which can make it challenging to compete for healthcare business analyst jobs. While having experience in effective budgeting, operations management and financial statements can help applicants stand out, some employers may prioritize candidates with at least some healthcare experience. One way students can bridge the gap is to prioritize healthcare-related courses during their graduate studies. Seeking out internship opportunities at local medical facilities may also provide an inside look at how business professionals actively support the work of clinical caregivers.
Healthcare business analyst salary and job outlook
While there isn’t much salary or job growth data available for healthcare business analysts specifically, the BLS projects that employment of management analysts (including business analysts) is expected to grow 14% between 2018 and 2028, which is much faster than the national average for all occupations. The demand for these professionals is particularly strong in the healthcare field, however, as the aging U.S. population is leading to higher facility costs. The shifting regulatory environment in the American health insurance industry is also forcing companies to onboard more business analysts to help navigate complex healthcare-client relationships.
In terms of compensation, the BLS reports that management analysts had a median salary of $83,610 in May 2018. The lowest 10% (entry-level positions) earned around $48,360, while the highest 10% (executive roles) took home more than $152,760. Since healthcare business analysts tend to have a lot of career mobility, it’s also useful to consider salary expectations for more specialized positions. For example, financial analysts earn a median wage of $85,660 per year, while IT security analysts take home $98,350 annually. This variability helps demonstrate how specific healthcare business analyst roles can have very different outcomes, making careful career planning essential to any job seeker’s long-term success.
How an MSBA from the University of Nevada, Reno can help launch your healthcare business analyst career
If you’re seeking a business analyst career but are unsure where to start, the online Master of Science in Business Analytics program at the University of Nevada, Reno may be the stepping stone you’ve been looking for. As more medical facilities integrate big data analytics and management tools into their workflows, the need for talented professionals with IT experience will continue to grow. This MSBA program is designed to prepare students for the future of business operations by providing a rigorous, hands-on curriculum focused on data analytics, information visualization and risk management.
Over the course of this 30-credit-hour graduate program, you can learn how businesses utilize data science to enhance decision making, identify improvement opportunities and secure long-term profitability. Students will also develop a solid understanding of key business technologies used in real-world healthcare applications, from blockchain and artificial intelligence to data mining tools. By learning about these cutting-edge innovations, you can assemble the knowledge, skills and experience medical facilities need to deliver the best possible care to patients without overspending or underutilizing key resources.