As U.S. healthcare costs continue to rise, analytics are big business, and not just for doctors and insurance companies. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), U.S. healthcare costs account for an estimated 17% of the gross domestic product (GDP)—a percentage that is expected to increase to 20% in the next two years, partially due to an aging population.

Healthcare companies are increasingly turning to data analytics to transform their industry. A recent survey of healthcare executives by Health Catalyst found that 90% of respondents considered analytics to be incredibly important to their organization. Additionally, reports from Global Market Insight predict that the overall healthcare analytics market will surpass $16 billion by 2024.

Companies You Know

Retail companies are also hoping to capitalize on this growing market. CVS Health, which teamed up with Epic Systems last October to use findings from its health and analytics platform to better understand customer behavior around taking medications, announced that it is planning to invest even more in health analytics after a solid earnings report released last month. And, its recent acquisition of insurance company Aetna brings together two healthcare giants in a further move to disrupt the industry.

Internet behemoth Amazon wants to do more for healthcare than just selling band-aids and Tylenol. The global force announced at the end of January that it was partnering with Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan to form an independent healthcare company for its U.S. employees.

A recent Harvard Business Review article considers what the company’s investment in consumer data could mean for healthcare analytics. They suggest that the technology already used in AmazonGo stores that lets a customer purchase items without having to go through a checkout line could also be used to enhance the real-time location systems already used in some hospitals to track how personnel and equipment move through the facilities. Amazon’s ability to capture and analyze data could also be used to connect a customer’s purchasing patterns with their medical history, genetic information, and activity levels. In turn, healthcare delivery systems could perhaps target better care.

Uber is entering the health landscape as well. On March 1, the company announced their newest venture, Uber Health. This service will allow healthcare professionals to order rides for patients in an attempt to reduce the number of missed appointments. The program was successfully used in more than 100 hospitals and clinics during its beta launch.

Wearables

The wearables market also continues to expand, growing 10.3% last year to reach $26.3 million during the second quarter of 2017 alone, according to the International Data Corporation. But while the wearables market has tremendous potential for improving healthcare analytics, with wearable biosensors able to track everything from sleep quality to blood pressure, a recent research study reports that this potential may not yet be realized. This is because remote patient monitoring with conventional biosensors was found to have no statistically significant impact on overall health.

However, this news hasn’t stopped wearables maker FitBit from trying to expand further into the healthcare sector. The company announced last month that it had purchased Boston-area startup Twine Health, patient engagement and chronic condition management coaching platform whose technology has been used with promising results for patients with hypertension at Massachusetts General Hospital, and with diabetes at the Joslin Diabetes Center.

How Do You Start?

When it comes to analytics and industry, having a prior background in the industry will set you above other applicants. If you are already studying or working in the Healthcare industry, you will have an easier time transitioning into health analytics because you will have the base knowledge of topics that need analyzing, and know why these outcomes are important to research. If you’re new to the Healthcare industry and want to break in, it’s a good idea to do your research and see if you can reach out to a few companies to get an idea of how they operate and what they are looking to achieve. Showcasing a Healthcare based project in your data portfolio will also be important when transitioning to a data-driven role in this industry. There are a great deal of free data resources online that you can leverage to add projects to your portfolio, including these healthcare specific data-sets.

Since analytics is still in its infant stages in the mainstream space, getting the skills now and applying them to your industry will put you leagues above others. Companies are requiring background experience with analytics before starting data jobs because they may not have the resources to train you in-house. Coming in with a base knowledge will set you up to climb the ladder and reach your next level.

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