Do a google search on the term “Healthcare Programmer” and “Health Data Scientist” you will get some interesting responses. Some related to IT or IS systems, Some requiring Medical Coding knowledge. Usually or very rarely any information of how these two can intersect. If you are like myself continuing my journey into healthcare data has proven to be challenging.
The process of health data mining is known as Medical Coding or Abstracting. This is usually performed by individuals being assigned a specialty like Inpatient or Cardiology and assigning ICD 10 CM/PCS and/or CPT/HCPCS Classifications to interpret the patient medical record into a series of numbers computers can understand. Abstracting the medical record is necessary in healthcare today because of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services require it of hospitals and physician practices to demonstrate compliance. As of current, it is largely manual in nature. . Although EHR vendors tout to have made the process electronic, it usually requires APIs to work efficiently. If you are transitioning into this industry, be prepared for this. Especially if you plan on being employed in any Machine Learning or Automation process. All aspects of this field require some sort of clinical knowledge.
Most health data analytics roles want staff who know SQL or Access or another RDMS system. They also want to know you can Visualize the data into meaningful information using Tableau. This is especially valuable today because so many hospitals need this information to recover lost finances and claim Denials are an easy trend to measure. Some of these trends do require some clinical experience like a Nurse Informatics role or a Nurse Auditing role. You might be able to negotiate if you have a clinical documentation certification (CCDS or CDIP).
As health information technology continue to challenge the scope of practice, continue to evaluate and ask where the next 10 years will take you. Any technological advancement requires consistent change and commitment to growth. Take that as a challenge and come along for the ride and show those recruiters what you can do!