How to Become a Certified Health Data Analyst (CHDA) - Certification and Requirements
Certified health data analysts (CHDAs) are responsible for collecting and analyzing healthcare data into useful pieces of information. They have the knowledge and skills to collect, manage, analyze, and transform data into timely and accurate information.
In order to become a CHDA, candidates must take the certification exam offered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). After earning this certification, professionals can demonstrate their organizational knowledge and skills. They can apply this specialized knowledge to provide actionable insights to physicians, administrators, clinical researchers, and many others in the allied health fields.
Healthcare data analysts are often referred to as health information management analysts or healthcare business analysts. Their work involves gathering and interpreting data from a variety of sources such as electronic health records, cost reports, patient satisfaction surveys, and billing claims. Their end goal is to help organizations improve their quality of care, lower costs, and enhance their patient experience.
Using software and statistics, these professionals provide data support, conduct research, and improve information quality and accuracy. They may also have additional responsibilities such as automating external and internal reports, helping hospital executives understand data, and creating dashboards for presentation at the executive level.
What Do Health Data Analysts Do?
Typical duties of health data analysts include:
- Gathering and organizing information for problem-solving
- Interviewing personnel and conducting onsite observations for determining the methods, equipment, and personnel that will be required
- Analyzing financials and other data
- Developing solutions or alternative practices
- Recommending new systems and procedures
- Making recommendations to management through written reports or presentations
- Conferring with managers to ensure that implemented changes are working
Data is one of the most valuable assets in an organization. However, it is essential that all data collected is put to use for the benefit of an organization. Thus, trained professionals for collecting, storing, retrieving and presenting data to support business decisions are indispensable for every organization. This is where healthcare data analysts come in. They help health systems, physician groups, and hospitals take important decisions such as adding a new service line, joining an Accountable Care Organization, and merging other providers.
A number of clinical improvements are the result of insights provided by healthcare data analysts. In addition, they help vendors and insurers analyze data that guide population health management, decision making, cost containment, and quality improvement.
Where Do Health Data Analysts Work?
Health data analysts work for health insurance companies, health systems, hospitals, large physician practice groups, healthcare consulting companies, federal and state departments, electronic health record (EHR) and other health information technology vendors, and other health organizations.
In large organizations, they often work as part of a business intelligence team, reporting directly to executive leaders such as the chief financial officer or chief medical officer. In smaller organizations, they might work alone, reporting directly to the head of the company. Additionally, health data analysts can also work as senior software engineers, project managers, medical coders, senior business analysts, medical directors, project directors, assistant professors, and senior consultants, among other roles paying thought to these unique skills.
Skills & Personality Traits of Health Data Analysts
Candidates who enjoy working under pressure and solving complex problems can find the role of a health data analyst both fulfilling and challenging. One must be able to multitask in a busy environment, collaborate with various stakeholders, and communicate clearly and concisely, both verbally and in writing.
It also helps to have previous experience in healthcare. People who have previous experience in healthcare are well-positioned to become health data analysts. For instance, health information management professionals are well-suited for the health data analyst position as they have experience applying medical codes to clinical data. Medical assistants and nurses can also be a good fit for this role, as they have direct clinical care experience and are familiar with clinical data.
Steps to Becoming a Certified Health Data Analyst (CHDA)
Most health data analysts have at least a bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree is the typical entry-level requirement for certified health data analysts, especially in a field such as HIMT (health information management and technology).
Here is one possible path to becoming a CHDA:
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree (Four Years).
A bachelor’s degree program in health informatics or health information management can prepare candidates for a career in health data analysis.
Some schools offer a combination of health information management and informatics. These programs may include courses in healthcare laws and ethics, anatomy and physiology, and medical terminology. Sample programs include:
Rasmussen College – Rasmussen College offers an online health information management (HIM) bachelor’s degree program. This program provides students with hands-on opportunities and gives them the knowledge and skills to excel in their careers. The 90 credit-hours program includes courses such as advanced quality management in healthcare, healthcare statistics and reporting, and applied research in health information management. In order to enroll in this program, students should have earned an associate’s degree in health information technology and should possess a current RHIT credential.
- Location: Bloomington, Minnesota
- Expected Time to Completion: 18 months
- Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM).
University of Wisconsin – The University of Wisconsin offers an online bachelor of science in health information management and technology (HIMT) program. This program provides students with skills in both health information management (HIM) and health information technology (HIT). The program comprises 61 credit-hours. Some of the courses it includes are healthcare systems: analysis and design, quality assessment and improvement, principles of management for HIMT professionals, healthcare economics, programming and software development, and data warehousing and mining.
- Location: Madison, Wisconsin
- Expected Time to Completion: 12 to 18 months
- Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM)
Step 2: Gain Work Experience (Two Years or More).
Certified health data analysts must have a minimum of two years of healthcare-related work experience. Prior experience with health information technology, medical economics, managed care finance, or medical office administration can provide candidates with the necessary data and software management skills to transition easily to a health data analysis position.
Step 3: Get certified with the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).
In order to get certified as a health data analyst, students can take the certified health data analyst (CHDA) exam offered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). The certification serves as a mark of competency in the field and helps candidates stand out among other applicants. It demonstrates professionalism and commitment, facilitates professional development, and helps students achieve expertise. The certification exam is a written one.
Students must meet at least one of the following requirements to be eligible to sit for the CHDA examination:
- Healthcare information management credential (RHIT®) and a minimum of three years of experience with healthcare data
- A bachelor’s degree and a minimum of three years of experience with healthcare data
- Healthcare information management credential (RHIA®)
- A master’s degree in health information management or health informatics from an accredited institution
- A master’s or higher degree and one year of healthcare data experience.
This 141-question CHDA examination takes approximately 3.5 hours and includes the following domains:
- Business needs assessment
- Data acquisition and management
- Data management
- Data analytics
- Data interpretation and reporting
Please visit the following CHDA examination preparation resources to learn more: