A health policy is a guiding principle or goal that determines how care is deployed and accessed. For instance, different health policies regulate the affordability of pharmaceuticals, establish the extent to which health facilities are reimbursed by the state, and ensure that care is administered in an equitable, unbiased way across varied demographics.
Lawmakers and government agencies at the federal or state level establish policies, and hospitals and other healthcare organizations also set them. Health policy analysts collect and analyze data to measure the effects of specific policies and then make recommendations to maximize efficiency within those guidelines.
For example, if a hospital is losing money because it doesn’t accept a certain insurance option, an analyst might collect data and formulate an argument to justify expanding its insurance choices. The analyst would then work to convince stakeholders to adjust hospital policy, ultimately benefiting both the hospital and the community.
Health policy analysts help government institutions set policies, work with political action committees to propose new policies, and help healthcare organizations develop budget-conscious plans and ensure policy compliance. The role combines data analysis with a deep understanding of the healthcare system.
Experienced nurses interested in moving into a career in healthcare policy analysis should begin with the right education, such as online Doctor of Nursing Practice programs.
Health Policy Analyst Job Description
Depending on their role, policy analysts may work with healthcare providers (e.g., home health agencies, hospitals, and care clinics), regulatory agencies, state and federal lawmakers, and even multinational organizations (such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Health Organization, and the United Nations).
Some professionals analyze existing policies to ensure their organizations’ regulatory compliance, while others research and propose policies that can help improve outcomes and efficiency. They also identify policy issues that could impact an organization’s larger interests.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), policy analysts work in four main areas: collecting information, analyzing policies and making propositions, evaluating outcomes of existing policies, and sharing information. A key element of a health policy analyst’s job is communicating their analysis to stakeholders, which may entail explaining a proposed policy’s unexpected outcomes to a lawmaker or presenting a cost-saving managerial change to a hospital board, for example.
Health policy analysts can use their expertise in the healthcare system to effect change at the highest levels.
Health Policy Analyst Salary
Health policy analysts made a median income of approximately $64,000 as of May 2021, according to PayScale. Salaries vary based on an individual’s skills, education level, years of experience, and location. Entry-level analysts earned a median income of around $53,000, and analysts with five to nine years in the field earned a median salary of around $70,000.
What Are the Skills of a Health Policy Analyst?
One of a health policy analyst’s core competencies is the ability to perform advanced research on policies and healthcare industry trends. This can involve researching current government standards, analyzing national best practices, and maintaining accountability records with state-level agencies.
They also may conduct data analysis using database software such as Excel, Access, or SAS (Statistical Analysis System) to measure policies’ effects on different populations. Because they review and evaluate legislation, analysts should have a deep understanding of the legislative process and how politics applies to health policy.
Communication skills are crucial, as health policy analysts frequently present their findings to different audiences and may also write policy briefs, present testimony at public hearings, and prepare reports. Because they engage with a variety of stakeholders, they should be able to communicate with people in the legislative, business, and medical realms.
An effective health policy analyst should also have exceptional organizational and time-management skills, superior interpersonal ability, and the capacity to work effectively alone or in teams.
How You Can Become a Health Policy Analyst
Most employers require policy analysts to have at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field, though they often require an advanced degree, such as a master’s or doctorate, for senior and management positions.
With courses such as Clinical Inquiry, Advanced Health Care Policy, and Organizations Theory and System Leadership, Maryville’s online Doctor of Nursing Practice programs is designed for experienced nurses interested in high-level careers in clinical practice, policy, systems leadership, and advocacy. Find out more about how Maryville helps equip future healthcare leaders with the advanced skills and knowledge to take on leadership roles and confront the challenges facing the healthcare system.