Tips for Getting into the Predictive Analytics Health Sector

The SOA recently launched a campaign to increase and expand the perception of actuaries as predictive analytics experts, specifically in the healthcare industry. To support this important initiative in the coming year, we will highlight members who are paving the way in healthcare careers, share the latest industry trends and provide guidance for members and candidates considering this career path.

 

Whether you are starting your career in predictive analytics or considering something new, there is a lot of opportunity for actuaries in healthcare roles. Beyond insurance companies that use predictive analytics to set rates, the healthcare industry is using its data to reduce lab costs, predict population health challenges, and provide better, more personalized patient care.

For many, finding a role in healthcare may seem out of reach, but our research confirms that the shift to predictive analytics is part of a natural evolution for actuaries—that actuaries have the credibility to play in the data field.

Following are five tips to help members and candidates break in to a predictive analytics role in the healthcare industry:

 

  1. Change how and where you search for job openings.

Our audit of predictive analytics job descriptions in the healthcare industry found that “data scientist” is the title most used when recruiting for these positions. “Statistician” and “computer scientist” rounded out the top three.  Using these search terms, along with your traditional actuary terms, can help you identify a greater number of suitable employment opportunities.

Also, consider nontraditional employers. According to our audit, pharmaceutical companies and pharmacy benefits providers have the most difficulty finding qualified candidates and the greatest need.  If that doesn’t suit you, consider opportunities with hospital systems or physician practices.

 

  1. Emphasize the skills that actuaries have in common with data scientists first.

Since healthcare companies may be new to actuaries, you need to “get your foot in the door,” so you can educate them on the unique value you bring to their teams. The four key skills we found to be most universal for predictive analytics roles are a foundational knowledge of statistics, computer programming and data analysis, ability to draw conclusions that inform decision making, aptitude to solve business problems via complex quantitative data analysis and ability communicate findings clearly to colleagues who are not data specialists.

 

  1. But also highlight the training and skills unique to actuaries.

Predictive analytics job descriptions predominantly focus on risk and include phrases like “reducing risk, calculating risk and risk analysis.” For many employers, actuaries are equated solely with risk, which can be used to your benefit, if you present a more complete picture of your skills. Actuaries have a standardized accreditation with an intentional focus on and training related to predictive analysis. Our intensive education means we have industry knowledge, know advanced economics and corporate finance language, use more sophisticated modeling and understand the nuances of financial health risk. We learn how to interpret data and communicate our findings clearly, two skills the healthcare industry needs.

 

  1. Position yourself as a problem solver.

The healthcare industry is looking for people who can connect the dots, solve real-world problems and predict future implications and outcomes. That means you may need to think differently about how you present yourself and your work. Instead of listing accomplishments or projects, think about the quantitative and qualitative impact of your work and tell a story about the problem, solution and results. This is your opportunity to show off how you understand complex problems, use the appropriate models and analytics, and communicate data creatively for a relevant audience, regardless of the industry.

 

  1. Remember you have a right to be here.

You can bring unique value to healthcare companies wrestling with how to use complex, clinical data sets, so they can understand and mitigate financial risk. Although these may seem to be nontraditional roles for you, they are a logical evolution of your education, training and skillset. It’s a big step, but if you make the commitment, it can lead to a new and rewarding career.

Nontraditional career paths offer new opportunities for actuaries and expand our professional relevance for the future. We hope to inspire you to look at predictive analytics opportunities in new ways with upcoming posts about industry trends and the great work actuaries are doing in this space.

We want to hear from our members and candidates. Considering a predictive analytics career in healthcare? Have advice for people considering this career path? Let us know: predictiveanalytics@soa.org

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