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  • Writer's pictureMARK CONNOLLY

the guy behind the millennial analyst.

Updated: Feb 11, 2020

Hi! Welcome to the millennial analyst. I've been working in an analytic capacity for over 7 years and while my work has been in full-time positions in the healthcare industry, I have also maintained consulting arrangements in other industries. I created this site/blog as a way to reach other millennial analysts who are looking for help improving their skills or need assistance on their work projects using Tableau, SQL, R or Python. While future posts will dive into more career insights, tips, and tricks - I wanted to get this blog off and running with a post about myself. Who is the guy behind the millennial analyst after all? Well it all starts one late summer day in 1993...

I'm a summer baby - born in Chicago on August 9th, 1993.

It's from there that things got interesting and in a hurry. My mom noticed I wasn't kicking my right leg as much as my left and seemed to be crying a whole lot, even for a baby. After bringing me in and running some tests and scans, the doctors found a tumor on my spinal cord - explaining the right leg weakness. Not even a month old and I was diagnosed with neuroblastoma - a rare form of pediatric cancer that effects the nervous system (~800 kids are diagnosed in the US each year). Now medicine and treatments for cancer have come a long way in recent years but at the time of my diagnosis most treatments involved surgery. My oncologist however attempted to treat me with chemo and after several rounds, I was cancer free before my first birthday!

The thing about being a childhood cancer survivor is that your life is forever impacted by the diagnosis. The cancer may be gone but you spend a lifetime dealing with the long term effects of the cancer and treatment. For me this meant many surgeries, physical therapy appointments, having to wear orthotics for most of childhood, and frequent trips to the hospital. This might sound brutal and while it wasn't fun - many aren't even as lucky as me. Medicine saved my life but I knew that there were other people who would face more difficult challenges and wanted to do something to positively impact the care they received. It was my experiences as a childhood cancer survivor that led me to the healthcare field.

It was my experiences as a childhood cancer survivor that led me to the healthcare field.

Flash forward to my senior year of high school, having to pick schools, and deciding what I wanted to major in. I fell in love with Bioengineering and found a local state school with a solid program. I headed to my first day of college fully expecting to leave with a job designing wheelchairs for kids - you know, really applying all that I was going to learn over the next few years. I knew to get there that I needed experience outside of the classroom and early on got the opportunity to work in a research lab that studied different ways to improve walking function after stroke and spinal cord injury. What started out as just being an extra set of hands turned into a full time position out of school as a research engineer. My experience in this lab completely changed the scope of my education and professional career.

I loved working with each research participant and felt our work really changed the lives of those who came through our doors but the more time I spent in the research lab, the more I realized how important data in healthcare was and how it was evolving.

...I realized how important data in healthcare was and how it was evolving.

I also saw how messy it could be and how much data could be collected for a single person – let alone an entire hospital or country. With the right skills and tools, someone could really impact healthcare and the way patients are cared for. Shortly after finishing undergrad, I decided to begin a master’s program to concentrate on Bioinformatics and hone my skillset. I really leaned on my engineering and programming background as we learned about more advanced statistical analysis, machine learning techniques and database management topics that were only briefly covered in undergrad.

Prior to completing the master’s, I moved to another hospital to work as a senior analyst and began applying all the skills I was learning in school. I found a great opportunity to work within a strong academic health center alongside a group of strong data analysts, data scientists and data architects. It was a different world seeing an entire team focused on providing analytic support to an entire hospital compared to a single lab and the data we were working with there. In this role, we worked alongside hospital leaders (C-suite, doctors, nurses, social work, case management) to improve the quality of care our patients received. We used data to answer questions like which patients were most likely to be readmitted to the hospital or where we had opportunities to improve patient experience when visiting our hospital. It was awesome. I started using Tableau more than I had ever and quickly became one of our go-to's for complex reporting needs.

My role continued to evolve and I now get the opportunity to develop and provide education on Tableau for analysts and report viewers in our organization. I also work closely with our IT team to ensure we have the best systems and processes in place to deploy business intelligence software for the organization. It's a few steps removed from the face-to-face interaction I had in my research days but it's rewarding knowing that my work helps empower others to use data to improve the way we care for our patients every day.'s rewarding knowing that my work helps empower others to use data to improve the way we care for our patients every day.

Beyond what I do on campus, I often look to see how other organizations or individuals use Tableau or other tools to manage their analytics needs. I've really tried to become more involved within the Chicago Healthcare Tableau User Group and the Healthcare Tableau User Group (which I'm really excited to be a new co-lead for!!). I can't say enough great things about both groups and the people in them. I've been really inspired by how people innovate in their roles and always try to bring something back to our organization. I'm also incredibly interested in hearing how people got into healthcare and/or analytics, there is really no wrong way to get here!

Moving forward I'm going to include a picture of my pup Bailey and fun fact about him at the end of each post as a thank you for reading! The first fact? He's a Cubs fan just like his dad.

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1 Comment

Ann Cutrell
Ann Cutrell
Dec 03, 2019

Looking forward to following. I'm with you on the journey to change healthcare with data. Best of luck. Ann

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