What Does a Public Health Data Analyst Do?

A public health data analyst shares data with a healthcare team.

Public health is vital for society, as it focuses on preventing diseases and creating conditions that help improve quality of life. Acknowledging the importance of public health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has undertaken a significant effort to bolster public health across the U.S. As part of that commitment, they are allocating over $3 billion toward enhancing the U.S. public health workforce and infrastructure.

Health care data analytics is critical to supporting public health initiatives. Public health professionals can use data to advance health care outcomes. The role of a public health data analyst is crucial in this context. Individuals in these roles provide necessary data analysis and insights to help guide public health efforts, ensuring that health strategies are evidence-based and effectively targeted.

For individuals exploring this important role, the first step is to understand what a public health data analyst does. This includes learning about the typical work environments, and the necessary education and skills to work in the field. It also involves gaining insights into public health data analyst salary information and job prospects.

Public Health Data Analyst Job Description

Public health data analysts help shape health policies, programs and practices. They do so by collecting, maintaining and analyzing diverse health data and its sources with accuracy and integrity. Public health data analysts are also responsible for:

  • Using statistical methods to decipher trends and patterns in public health
  • Generating reports to help stakeholders and policymakers make informed decisions
  • Supporting the development and evaluation of public health policies and programs
  • Applying their analytical insights to assess health interventions
  • Ensuring compliance with legal and ethical standards on data privacy and confidentiality
  • Making continual improvements and innovation in data collection and analysis

Public Health Data Analyst Work Environments

The work environments of public health data analysts are diverse and dynamic. They can work for government agencies, research institutions, health care organizations, consulting firms and beyond. They may also travel to different locations for data collection and analysis.

Public health data analysts use specialized software to analyze and interpret large datasets. This can mean sitting in front of a computer in an office. But the position entails much more than computer work. Collaboration is a key aspect of data analysis in the public health realm. So, data analysts often work with health care professionals, policymakers and researchers in varied settings. Public health data analysts may also perform outside their offices to do fieldwork. This can involve meeting all sorts of people, conducting surveys and interviews to collect data.

Public Health Data Analyst Education and Skill Requirements

Educational backgrounds for public health data analysts can vary. Though, individuals looking to become any type of data analyst can benefit from earning an advanced degree that teaches key public health concepts as well as data analytics skills. Proficiency in data-driven problem solving and team collaboration, and technical skills in statistical software, databases and data visualization are also essential.

To further enhance their qualifications, individuals can pursue the Certified in Healthcare Privacy and Security (CHPS) or Certified Health Data Analyst (CHDA) credential, which demonstrates their advanced knowledge in key areas of health care analytics.

The following breaks down essential skills and knowledge that are necessary for public health data analyst roles.

Knowledge of Public Health Principles

Understanding public health principles and practices includes knowledge of epidemiological methods, health care systems and health policy. For public health data analysts, understanding foundational concepts is essential for interpreting data within its broader health context, enabling them to provide insights that are not only statistically sound but also practically applicable in public health interventions.

Data Cleaning

Data cleaning involves managing data from varied sources that are often inconsistent or incomplete. Key tasks include identifying and correcting missing values, outliers and other inconsistencies. Techniques such as removing duplicates, standardizing formats and resolving discrepancies are crucial to ensure data integrity and accuracy.

Data Integration

Health care data integration involves merging data from multiple systems into a unified format from which meaningful insights may be gained. This requires skills in using integration tools and techniques like merging, joining and blending disparate datasets. Transforming data through mathematical operations or creating new calculated fields is also essential.

Statistical and Analytical Skills

Statistical and analytical skills are vital for interpreting complex datasets and identifying trends. Proficiency in using statistical software is beneficial for effective public health data analysis.

Data Management and Processing

Data management and processing skills involve handling large databases and maintaining data integrity. This includes managing data versions, documenting data transformations and maintaining metadata for reproducibility, collaboration and transparency in data analysis.

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

Critical-thinking and problem-solving skills are crucial for making data-driven decisions. This includes evaluating data sources, understanding data limitations and drawing valid conclusions from analyses. These skills help ensure insights and recommendations are both accurate and impactful in improving public health outcomes.

Communication Skills

Effective communication is key to conveying complex data findings to diverse audiences. Skills include clear report writing, presenting findings understandably to non-technical audiences and collaborating with various professionals in public health.

Data Governance and Risk Management

Data governance and risk management involve understanding public health principles, data privacy and ethical guidelines. Skills in adapting to new technologies and methods in data science, and collaboration with interdisciplinary teams are also valuable.

Public Health Data Analyst Salary and Job Outlook

The median annual public health data analyst salary was around $70,400, according to 2023 data from the compensation website PayScale. Salaries can vary depending on such factors as a job candidate’s experience and the location of the position. Entry-level positions start near $55,000, with potential growth to $114,000 for those with over 20 years of experience.

The growing global health care data analytics market — valued at $11.7 billion in 2022 according to Grand View Research — drives demand for public health analysts. With this growth comes increased demand for health care data analytics.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts about 1.8 million annual job openings in the health care sector from 2022 to 2032. This growth rate is much higher than the average for all occupations during that same time period.

Leverage Data Analytics to Build Healthier Communities

The field of public health data analytics plays a pivotal role in enhancing health system management, improving patient engagement and disease management and ultimately contributing to healthier communities.

The Augusta University Online Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Public Health program can help you build a robust understanding of critical subjects, including health management and policy, health promotion, environmental health, biostatistics and epidemiology.

Explore how the AU Online Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Public Health program can prepare you to use the power of data analytics to promote public health and address key challenges in the U.S. health care system.

AHIMA, Certified in Healthcare Privacy and Security (CHPS)
AHIMA, Certified Health Data Analyst (CHDA)
BMJ Open, “Skills and Competencies in Health Data Analytics for Health Professionals: A Scoping Review Protocol”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “CDC Awards More Than $3 Billion to Improve U.S. Public Health Workforce and Infrastructure”
Datameer, “5 Essential Data Prep Skills for Healthcare Data Analysts”
Grand View Research, “Healthcare Predictive Analytics Market Size Report, 2030”
PayScale, Average Public Health Analyst Salary
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Fastest Growing Occupations
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Healthcare Occupations

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