Originally Published on CIO.com on Jan 25th, 2018

Professionals with a background in data analytics are in high demand. Find out what an analytics career in the health and wellness industry offers that other industries don’t.

According to LinkedIn’s 2017 U.S. Emerging Jobs Report, the number of data scientist positions at American companies has grown by over 650 percent since 2012. And yet, only 35,000 people in the U.S. currently have the requisite skill-set to fill these job openings, leaving companies in nearly every sector desperate for qualified candidates.

That means job-seekers who do possess these coveted qualifications will likely have their pick of roles over the next few years. But while the tech, energy, and telecommunications industries have long held a certain allure, there’s one industry I’d encourage every analytics professional to consider: health and wellness.

Analytics in health and wellness: success through collaboration

There are numerous data-related job titles and functions that fall under the expansive umbrella of the health and wellness industry. The subset in which I work — health and wellness marketing — provides a unique perspective at the intersection of healthcare, mathematics, data analytics, computer science, and traditional marketing. While I may be biased, I believe a job in health and wellness marketing analytics represents an unmatched opportunity for data professionals to interact with a diverse group of people and data, and to perform meaningful work that ultimately can impact the lives of patients.

Health and wellness ad agencies aren’t just looking for one or two data scientists they can hole away in the basement — they’re building out expansive teams, each member of which must have a specific set of expertise within the field. Data strategists create data-driven road maps to solve business problems; data engineers use set theory and big data technology to make sense of massive quantities of raw data; digital analysts work closely with creatives, UX designers, and media buyers to turn clickstream data into conversion-driving experiences; and data scientists apply algorithms to data to predict future outcomes and prescribe recommendations.

In health and wellness marketing analytics, we have the opportunity to analyze a wide variety of data, including traditional marketing datasets — website analytics, social analytics, etc. — as well as healthcare data — prescribing data, payer data, diagnosis data, etc. — to shape future engagement.

When all of these experts work in tandem, health and wellness marketers are not tasked with simply identifying ways to sell products. Our job is to leverage data to more effectively forge meaningful connections with physicians and patients at what is likely a critical juncture in patients’ lives.

Making a difference in patients’ lives

Which leads us to the most satisfying aspect of working in health and wellness marketing: the opportunity to help improve communication between patients and the HCPs and health and wellness companies that have the power to bolster their health and, in some cases, help them manage and overcome disease.

In today’s overwhelmingly digital world, the internet is a patient’s first — and sometimes only — resource for learning about their specific ailments. Unlike analysts who work in other industries, data professionals in the health and wellness marketing space have the opportunity to investigate questions like:

“Where do patient knowledge gaps exist?”

“How likely is a particular patient group to adhere to a particular drug or therapy?”

“How effectively are HCPs communicating information about a new therapy to the most highly-affected patient groups?”

It’s not just about pushing units or boosting profits — these are questions that have a real bearing on the health and wellbeing of our communities at large.

Up for the challenge?

Health and wellness marketing is rarely straightforward. With so many parties at the center of the decision-making process (patients, HCPs, comorbidities, payers, etc.), and the fact that many conversions take place offline in exam rooms, marketing in the health and wellness space is unlike selling any other product. But that’s what makes it consistently interesting, challenging, and, ultimately, transformative for the people whose lives we impact. These qualities can be hard to find, and are a major reason why an analytics career in the health and wellness industry is well worth considering.

Written by Kevin Troyanos

I lead the Analytics & Data Science practice at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness. I have focused my career within the healthcare marketing analytics space, empowering healthcare marketers with data-driven strategic guidance while developing innovative solutions to healthcare marketing problems through the power of data science. I’ve worked to measure, predict, and optimize marketing and business outcomes across personal, non-personal, digital, and social channels. I’ve led engagements with brands that span all stages of the product lifecycle, with a particular focus on established brands. My role is to guide the departmental vision and lead innovation initiatives, effectively positioning marketing analytics as a competitive differentiator and organic growth driver for the agency at large.

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