Looking for a Future in Healthcare IT? Think About a Career in Data

June 24, 2015 / By AJ Dandrea

Data as a career may be a bit ambiguous. How about looking for a career in data modeling, preserving, securing, delivering and making data readily available?

Beyond the obvious solutions available within healthcare data to inform products and influence reform, there is a residual need for how to carefully steward and retain the data. Some refer to this as data governance. I call it simply, “a retention and capacity strategy in need of professionals.” Over the last five years, the healthcare industry has lost a tremendous amount of talent to the promise of “big data” and data driven analytics. The industry need is greater than ever to field a new set of talent.

According to one analyst, “A full 90 percent of the data in the world has been generated over the last two years. The internet companies are awash with data that can be grouped and utilized. Is this a good thing?” With an industry shift to population health and ICD-10 around the corner, should we anticipate a perfect storm resulting from all the data initiatives? A surge resulting in too much data?

Some question if the industry is ready for ICD-10, but I would ask, are we ready to maintain it?

This thought gap is an opportunity for those stewards–“data governance” folks—who can assure the nervous, preserve the potential and deliver the useful. If 90 percent of the data in the world was created in just a short two years¹, what happens in October when we multiply the 0s and 1s of data in binary by an order of five? Or 10?

With growing security concerns about protected health information (PHI), can big data effectively include it? Will this result in even smaller collections of assets to support ICD-10 and health reform?

One thing we may all agree on is that managing vast collections of PHI requires a different type of skill set than a few short years ago. If you find yourself talking about hosting costs more often, don’t be surprised, it will be a common conversation.

There are exciting career opportunities for those that are up to the challenge. With the transition of big data from Hadoop to Spark, the growing movement of in-memory analytics, the burdening challenges of data security, and the evolving role of the database administrator, a career in healthcare data can be as diverse and rewarding as those who chose the path of reform.

Indeed, if 90 percent of the data in the world has been generated in the last two years, how much more of it can be attributed to that number post October? Seems like a good opportunity to study up and think about a new career as a healthcare data – something.

AJ Dandrea is operations manager of the cloud hosting organization at 3M Health Information Systems

¹Ase Dragland, “Big Data – for better or worse,” May 22, 2103, http://www.sintef.no/home/corporate-news/big-data–for-better-or-worse/