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The Role of a Clinical Data Analyst

Written by: University of Tulsa   •  Jan 17, 2024
Medical Professionals Sitting Together on Laptops in a Medical Facility.

The Role of a Clinical Data Analyst

The medical profession is constantly evolving and developing new treatments, methods, and technologies to optimize patient outcomes. Clinical trials are driving much of this evolution, in which health researchers compile comprehensive data sets of potential treatments and their respective outcomes. For the data to be useful, it must be carefully collected, organized, and analyzed.

That’s where the clinical data analyst comes in. This professional combines a knowledge of computer science with a background in clinical care and plays an essential role in furnishing health providers and facilities with actionable insight. For those who obtain an advanced degree in nursing or a related field, this role may be incredibly rewarding.

What’s a Clinical Data Analyst?

Clinical data analysts work in the health informatics field, recording information that’s ascertained during clinical trials or other forms of research. The analyst’s role is to ensure that essential data is accurately transcribed from the clinical research team, securely stored, and accessible to relevant health providers.

Analysts may work directly with physician groups, providing them with relevant information that can be used to fine-tune treatment methods or enhance clinical outcomes. Their work may also benefit pharmaceutical and medical device companies, which rely on up-to-date data to develop safe, effective, and carefully targeted interventions.

What Does a Clinical Data Analyst Do?

The basic job description for a clinical data analyst involves managing information and staying aware of any noteworthy data trends. The analyst may also be tasked with maintaining systems, databases, and networks that keep data safe while abiding by regulatory standards that govern health informatics.

The exact duties associated with this role may vary from one position to the next, but a typical job description may look something like this:

  • Supervising internal data collection as well as outsourced data collection
  • Designing and implementing systems to collect and report clinical data
  • Compiling and organizing data in secure databases
  • Training team members on how to use a facility’s internal data systems
  • Summarizing and reporting data
  • Collaborating with researchers and research nurses to ensure that the correct statistics or metrics are being recorded

How to Become a Clinical Data Analyst

For those who have an interest in data systems but also feel drawn to patient care, this analyst position may be a rewarding career trajectory. A few steps are required to hone the skills necessary for success in this role.

1. Obtain an Undergraduate Degree

To develop foundational skills, completing a bachelor’s degree program is important. This may be in data analytics or computer science, but it can also be in a more directly health-related field, such as nursing, biology, or chemistry. 

2. Gain Professional Experience

The skills needed for success in clinical data analysis require more than just classroom learning. Getting some on-the-job experience in health data statistics is also important. Entry-level work may be sought in the research department of a pharmaceutical company, hospital, or clinical research facility.

3. Seek Certification

One way for aspiring analysts to signify a high level of training, and potentially compete for more prestigious positions and higher salaries, is to obtain certification from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). The Certified Health Data Analyst (CHDA) is particularly relevant to this role.

4. Pursue an Advanced Degree

While the clinical data analyst position doesn’t require a master’s-level degree, obtaining one can help develop a broader set of skills and potentially open the door to higher salary ranges. A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) can be a huge advantage to anyone aspiring to work in this analyst role.

5. Hone Essential Skills

Through a combination of classroom learning and on-the-job experience, aspiring analysts can focus on cultivating several core skills. The most noteworthy skills for this position include the following:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Up-to-date knowledge of clinical and nursing technology
  • Mathematical skills, including advanced knowledge of statistics
  • Attention to detail

Clinical Data Analyst Salary Range

Those who are drawn to this career path will understandably want to know more about the salary expectations. The median annual salary for clinical data analysts is approximately $72,590 as of August 2023, according to Payscale.

Several factors can affect the salary range for this profession, including level of education, level of certification, years of experience, and geographic location. Working in an area with a higher cost of living typically yields a higher salary. Additionally, an organization’s size and type can also affect the rate of pay for a data analyst.

Pursue a Career Combining Clinical Care and Data Analysis 

Access to up-to-date data is essential to the health care profession. The job of the clinical data analyst can help spur significant improvements in clinical outcomes and day-to-day efficiencies. One way to prepare for success in this field is to seek advanced education. 

Consider The University of Tulsa’s Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree path, which provides a robust set of clinical skills combined with core competencies, such as leadership, communication, and organization. Learn more about how this degree can provide the skills for wide-ranging career opportunities. 

Recommended Readings

A Nurse Educator’s Role in the Future of Nursing

How to Become an APRN

The Most Important Leadership Skills for Nurses

Sources:

Betterteam, Clinical Analyst Job Description

Climb, “What Does a Clinical Data Analyst Do?”

Indeed, “How to Become a Clinical Data Analyst (With Skills + Salary)”

Payscale, Average Clinical Data Analyst Salary

TechTarget, Clinical Data Analyst

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