The Institute’s new Master of Science in Healthcare Data Analytics program aims to integrate data analytics strategies, AI technologies, data literacy, data mining, analysis, and visualization to usher in a new era of clinical care delivery.

For many, even hearing the word ‘data’ can be overwhelming. It often conjures images of folks sitting behind computers all day coding, intense scientists in a lab, or tech gurus building the latest AI. But the reality is that data is more accessible and approachable than that and it impacts everything – including clinical care delivery, medical research, and healthcare administration. 

Shuhan He, program director of the MGH Institute’s new Master of Science in Healthcare Data Analytics program, knows that some aren’t aware of the overlap between data and health care. 

“Data is often thought of as a separate field than health care, but in my view, they are the same,” He said. “If you want to deliver the best care possible and operate more efficiently as a healthcare entity, you need to make data-informed decisions to move the needle.”

He says that he wasn’t taught to leverage data when he was entering the medical field, which leads to a big opportunity today.

“We have an opportunity to train a new generation of clinicians” he continued. “Every aspect of the healthcare profession, from clinical care to delivering healthy food in a cafeteria to managing emergency room wait times relies on data. It’s imperative we take advantage of the opportunity we have.” 

The intersection of data and health care is He’s area of expertise. His claim to fame may be that he created the anatomically correct heart and lung emojis that we all use today, but his impact goes far beyond. He remains a practicing Emergency Medicine physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, has published research on using technology to improve the supply chain of personal protective equipment and accessibility of health-related websites. He also currently serves as dual faculty in the Lab of Computer Science and Department Emergency Medicine at MGH, and as an Instructor at Harvard Medical School, and helps at the Center for Innovation in Digital Healthcare at MGH.

He says it’s important to promote an awareness of the role of data in healthcare and dispel misconceptions about what it takes to learn it. 

“Healthcare professionals often assume that data science is too technical for them or that they don’t have the right skillset,” He said. “This is not the case.”

That’s because everyone in the medical field is already using data, whether they know it or not. Platforms used to schedule patients, electronic health records, and even Excel spreadsheets rely on – and produce – mounds of data. 

The Institute’s new master’s program gives professionals the skills they need to utilize data for problem solving and to improve both clinical practice and healthcare systems. The program prepares students to become leaders at the intersection of data and healthcare, while honing in on clinical application at the point of patient care. It integrates data analytics strategies, Machine learning and AI technologies, data literacy, data mining, analysis, and visualization. 

The applications of data science are so broad that what graduates can do are limitless. Continued clinical care, hospital administration, medical technology development, research, and even big tech are all possible paths. But the bottom line remains the same – helping patients.

“As clinicians, we need to know why we do what we do, how we do what we do, and how it impacts our patients – information that we gain from data collection and analysis,” He said. “We all have the same goal here, so let’s take the next step forward.”

Learn more about the MS in Healthcare Data Analytics program.

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