Health data analyst--what educational path to take?

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New Member
Jan 8, 2013
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I know what I want to do, but I am so confused on how to get there. I'm interested in health data analysis--mining data, analyzing it, identifying correlations, and applying that information toward clinical interventions, tailoring patient education, and improving patient care in general.

Thus far, I've been looking at public health programs in epidemiology. However, predictive analytics often comes into play in this field and could be a solid major, particularly in light of all the hype around big data and its applications to medicine. Health informatics has been suggested to me, though I'm not keen on setting up computer networks, selecting vendors, etc. Health information management could be good educational foundations for this field, though I do not want to be involved in management and finance. Lastly, there is a Health Services Research, Policy, and Administration program at University of Minnesota that is interdisciplinary and includes courses in epidemiology, biostatistics, research, and analysis all rolled up together that looks great.

I guess my question is.....what path to take? I know I don't want to be an IT person setting up networks and dealing with vendors. Nor do I want to get into the medical/lab coat research end of things. I'm not a hard core IT person, or a doctor, or a scientist. I'm finishing up a two-year degree in Health Information Technology and I have a BA in English and Philosophy. I love HIT, and I find my anatomy and physiology courses fascinating. I've had a whole lot of extra courses in computer information systems. I like working with databases, and I'm nearly obsessive about acquiring knowledge on topics that captivate my imagination. I am keen at identifying anomalies, and I have a knack for skirting my way around road blocks and finding creative, alternatives solutions.

Anyone have any suggestions on what road to take to Rome?


Full Member
Jan 28, 2013
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Sounds like you are doing he same search I did last year! I have worked for 4 years in a math/stats/data heavy field, and wanted to learn how to apply similar concepts to health. After speaking to dozens of people and lots o research, I narrowed my degree choices to MPH in epi and MS/PHD in biostat. I ultimately decided on the MPH as it provides a much broader look at public health and is less pure math/theory and more practice. I plan on taking my degree in a very quantitative route, focusing on data analysis and developing statistical techniques to conduct epidemiological studies. Columbia offers certificate programs with the mph, so you can do an mph in epi with a cert in applied biostat, health informatics, outcomes research, or many other things. The Columbia MPH in epi with the biostat certificate is what I'm hoping to get into.