With continuous advancements in medical technology, it has become increasingly important to ensure that patient safety remains a priority. Unfortunately, these advancements can sometimes cause more harm than good. Real-world evidence (RWE) is a solution to this problem that helps companies answer critical questions, evaluate data effectively, and identify areas of concern. If you’re hoping to be part of this solution, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the opportunities available to you. Here’s an overview of the top careers you can obtain in real-world evidence.
What Is Real-World Evidence?
According to Kristin Kostka, the director of the OHDSI Center at the Roux Institute at Northeastern University, “we have more data than we ever thought was humanly possible to capture.” The problem, however, is data on its own doesn’t tell the whole story. As a piece of the puzzle, it’s only useful when interpreted.
Real-world evidence is a response to that problem. It’s the evaluation of risk, usage, and potential benefit of medical products. It involves not only capturing data, but also making sense of it.
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Real-world evidence professionals utilize software and analytical insight to conceptualize, analyze, and communicate the results of captured data. The most effective real-world evidence experts have expertise in the following subjects:
- Data analytics
- Health sciences
- Public health
Top 14 Real-World Evidence Careers
There’s an abundance of industries that need real-world evidence. “People who are applying for jobs will find a multitude of openings,” says Kostka. “They will find many places where they can go from being a hands-on doer to leading whole teams.”
It’s important to mention that not all real-world evidence professionals are referred to as such. They often hold job titles that can apply to multiple professions such as project managers or research associates. It’s important, however, to keep in mind that real-world evidence is a continuously evolving field. Therefore, top job titles today might adjust once more further down the line.
If you’re interested in becoming a leader in this new and dynamic field, here’s a list of 14 career opportunities that match today’s terminology and standards.
Top Jobs in Life Sciences
Many real-world evidence experts work in the life sciences industry. Life sciences companies often have functional teams such as market access, health economics and outcomes research, and brand teams to support the launch of a new drug or medical device. Many of these groups need real-world evidence expertise, even if the job titles don’t necessarily include RWE terminology.
Many of these titles are very broad and can apply to a wide range of responsibilities, however, if you’re interested in becoming a real-world evidence professional, here are some of the top job titles you should consider:
- Life Sciences Consultants
- Project Managers
- Research Associates
- Life Sciences Account Managers
- Life Sciences Specialists
Remember to always check the job description of real-world evidence positions before applying to ensure it aligns with your interests and expertise.
Top Jobs in Health Data
One of the fundamental responsibilities of real-world evidence experts is analyzing real-world data. Much like life sciences companies, real-world evidence experts can hold a variety of job titles that individuals in other professions may hold as well (e.g., sales people and relationship managers). However, some of the top job titles in health data include:
- Data Management Engineers
- Client Executives
- Health Data Analysts
Real-World Evidence Jobs
Life sciences and health data jobs may require the type of data analysis that real-world evidence uses, but may come with additional responsibilities depending on the company. Individuals hoping to work in real-world evidence might find the most applicable career paths by searching for job titles that specifically relate to real-world evidence.
With the increasing popularity of this industry, more and more job titles are emerging that specifically target real-world evidence expertise and knowledge. While these titles may not be as common as the titles mentioned above, their numbers are growing. These job titles include:
- Real-World Evidence Business Development Directors
- Biostatisticians in Real-World Evidence
- Real-World Data Managers
- RWE Principal Data Scientists
- Vice Presidents of Real-World Evidence
- Directors of Real-World Evidence
Real-world evidence professionals have a wide variety of companies to choose from. For example, there’s a growing number of positions in regulatory agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in Europe. There are also growing opportunities to work in pharmaceutical companies, healthcare, and academia.
How to Land a Job in Real-World Evidence
If you’re interested in working in real-world evidence, it’s important to know the steps needed to find a position that best suits your interests.
Fulfill the Educational Requirements
To obtain a real-world evidence position in healthcare, you need at least a bachelor’s degree in a science-, health-, or data-related field. This is because analyzing data requires a fundamental knowledge of how care is delivered, how to make sense of data, and the regulations you need to abide by.
A relevant master’s degree, though not always required, is an additional step that can propel your career forward, increase your earning potential, and further your skillset. Programs like Northeastern University’s Master of Science in Real-World Evidence specifically target these foundational competencies to ensure that graduates are well-equipped to move into the field post-graduation.
Obtain the Required Skills
Real-world evidence professionals need several key skills to succeed in the field. This includes a combination of job-specific and interpersonal skills. Effective healthcare experts need to know not only how to do their job, but how to interact well with others, especially if they’re hoping to advance to a management position.
Some of the hard skills most frequently included in relevant RWE job postings are:
- Medical affairs
- Health economics and outcomes research
The most common interpersonal skills listed in postings are:
Learning the skills, methods, and responsibilities of real-world evidence can feel like “drinking from a firehose,” according to Kostka. But once RWE experts obtain a basic understanding of the fundamentals, they’ll have the skills necessary to begin searching for a job. “As [real-world evidence professionals] get a base understanding of these core skills around the information that’s available, the techniques, different forms of data, different types of software they can use to analyze it . . . the opportunities are out there from that point forward.”
Obtain Relevant Experience
Most positions in real-world evidence require prior experience. The good news is that there are several positions that can easily lead into a real-world evidence career. The field requires an individual to be able to make sense of a large amount of data. For this reason, real-world evidence professionals often begin their career in positions such as data analyst or data engineer. This type of analytical position is a great way to gain the necessary skills and experience required to succeed in real-world evidence.
Taking the Next Steps For Your Career
Real-world evidence is an exciting field that’s growing in popularity. Real-world evidence professionals have the opportunity to help healthcare companies make data-driven decisions to promote the safety and efficacy of medical advancements. This evaluation of data has a tangible impact on the lives of those in need of treatment.
If you’re interested in making a positive difference in others’ lives through real-world evidence, consider applying for Northeastern University’s MS in Real-World Evidence in Healthcare and Life Sciences which will equip you with the toolkit you need to succeed in the industry.