Massey to master health analytics

The Centre for Public Health Research (CPHR) at Massey University's Wellington campus has launched New Zealand's first master's degree in analytics specialising in health, aiming to fill a growing need for people able to analyse, interpret and disseminate health data.

With employment in the ICT management, health services management and health analytics fields projected to grow by up to 5.3 per cent in NZ and 7.2 per cent in Australia, the CPHR's associate director Barry Borman said New Zealand needed to generate homegrown capability to fill a shortage.

“Internationally there is clear demand for people with specific health analytics skills, and this is predicted to grow,” Professor Borman said. “There is a huge amount of data being collected in the health sector, but a gap remains in the amount of qualified people to analyse, interpret and translate these into meaningful information that can be used to improve our health services and outcomes.

“The New Zealand health sector is data rich and information poor. We continue to amass data at an increasing rate, but we are not turning this into information.

“The investment is in software and hardware, not human ware. Data is at the bottom of the hierarchy, and without analysis it is not useful information or knowledge.”

Massey’s Master of Analytics (Health) aims to provide graduates with the tools, skills and techniques to turn health data into robust information to guide policy development and decision making across the health sector.

The program has been designed in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Statistics New Zealand and district health boards.

Professor Borman said all countries are struggling with a data deluge.” There is a common belief that faster computers and better software will result in more information, but humans are best at analysing, interpreting, translating and disseminating information. Humans make data useful.

“We are collecting data in the expectation it might be analysed by someone, sometime, somewhere. When it isn’t, we collect more data. We don’t analyse the data available, because we don’t have the analysts.”

Students will be able to use Massey's computer lab, which has access to a large research database called the Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) that contains data from a range of government agencies.

Part of the course requires students to complete an applied analytics project, where the knowledge and skills learnt will be used to address a real-world problem in collaboration with an organisation from the health industry.

The course will be available in semester two 2017.

Posted in Movers and shakers

Tags: Massey University

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