Biostatistics for Health Care Administrators

Biostatistics is a subgroup of statistics, which focuses on medicine, epidemiology (spread of disease), and public health. While biostatistics may sound like a highly technical subfield, its insights can help shape the direction of health care policies and treatments, making it an essential field for health care administrators. Decisions are made on the administrative level every day and many of these decisions are made based on statistics. In order to make effective and timely decisions, you must be able to interpret and understand available data about health care.

Who Studies Biostatistics?
Unlike when hospitals and medical facilities were small, locally owned businesses, the health care systems of today need health care administrators who are able to integrate the health care delivery systems, understand and work with technological innovations, and navigate the increasingly complex regulations associated with delivering top notch health care. A thorough understanding of biostatistics can help health care administrators live up to the tasks.

While many master's degree programs in health administration include courses in biostatistics, you may also choose to earn a master's degree in biostatistics itself. There are two types of master's degrees in biostatistics: Master of Science (MS) and Master of Public Health (MPH). The MS degree is a research/academic degree that focuses on principles of biostatistics. The MPH degree, on the other hand, focuses on public health practice and applying the insights of biostatistics to public health issues.

Typical Biostatistics Courses
Although courses may vary a bit between universities, coursework in biostatistics may include:

  • Statistical Computer Program Packages
  • Application of Regression Analysis to Public Health Studies
  • Statistical Methods in Epidemiology
  • Health Applications of Multivariate Analysis
  • Advanced Topics in Computational Statistics

Understanding biostatistics usually requires prerequisites such as college-level statistics and basic algebra.

What Are Biostatistician Salaries and Job Outlooks Like?
The employment outlook for health care administrators is good and having a biostatistics background can only help enhance what you can bring to the job. Large institutions, academia, and government continue to need highly trained administrators who can understand and work with the volumes of statistics that can be produced at any given time.
Salaries for health care administrators are, like most careers, quite variable depending on where you are working and how much experience you have. If you are already working in health care administration, moving ahead by obtaining a MPH could enhance your employability and result in significant salary increases. The median annual salary in 2009 for medical and health services managers was $81,850; the top ten percent of earners in the field took home more than $140,300.

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