A health information technician is an allied health professional who organizes and manages medical records.
|Median Annual Salary||$40,350 per year|
|Employment Growth Forecast from 2018-2028||11% (Much faster than average)|
|Number of New Jobs from 2018-2028||+23,100|
|Average Entry-Level Education Requirements||Postsecondary nondegree award|
|Annual Salary of the Highest 10%||$66,260|
|Annual Salary of the Lowest 10%||$26,550|
What is a Health Information Technician?
A health information technician is an allied health professional who organizes and manages medical records. They ensure the security and accuracy of medical records by categorizing patient information for medical databases. Health information technicians must follow medical billing and coding procedures when creating, maintaining, and updating patient records. During this process, medical coding professionals assign diagnosis and procedure codes to doctors' records, acting as intermediaries between physicians and insurance billing offices.
Health information technicians typically need an associate degree for entry-level employment. During a health information technology program, learners study topics like medical terminology, human anatomy, physiology, and health data standards. They also learn about coding systems, healthcare reimbursement, and healthcare statistics.
The average medical records and health information technician salary exceeds $40,000 a year, with strong job growth projections through 2028. As allied health professionals, health information technicians work in hospitals, doctors' offices, and nursing care facilities.
Alternate Job Titles for Health Information Technicians
- Cancer Registrar
- Health Information Coder
- Health Information Specialist
- Health Information Systems Technician
- Health Records Technician
- Medical Records Specialist
What Does a Health Information Technician Do?
Health information technicians play a vital role in the healthcare system, organizing and managing patient information, like medical histories, symptoms, and test results. Physicians depend on health information technicians to maintain the quality and accuracy of patient health records. They must follow procedures to keep information secure, both electronically and on paper.
As a growing number of healthcare employers switch to electronic health records (EHRs), the responsibilities of health information technicians require computer skills and familiarity with EHR software. Health information technology programs typically incorporate EHR training.
Medical records and health information technicians can specialize in several areas. Medical coders use nurse and physician notes to update patient records, including assigning procedure codes for patient care. These records help insurance offices properly bill for medical treatments. Cancer registrars, by contrast, specialize in records for cancer patients. They conduct follow-ups to track a patient's treatment and recovery while compiling cancer patient information for research.
Become a Health Information Technician
Associate Degree Programs
Many medical billing and coding jobs require an associate degree in health information technology. During a health information technology program, students learn about medical terminology, anatomy, and physiology to accurately interpret notes from registered nurses and physicians. The degree also includes coursework on health data procedures and regulations, including privacy requirements for health information.
Additionally, health information technology students examine insurance claim procedures, medical office administration, and EHR software technology. Some health information technology programs incorporate a practicum or internship to build hands-on training. This experience helps graduates transition into the workforce. An associate degree also incorporates general education requirements in mathematics, English, and communication, which strengthen critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.
Earning an associate degree in health information technology generally takes two years for full-time students. Graduates can pursue entry-level medical billing and coding jobs or transfer into a bachelor's program. Transfer students with an associate degree can often complete a four-year bachelor's degree in two years. Prospective students should look for accredited programs, which meet the requirements for professional certification. The American Academy of Professional Coders and the American Health Information Management Association accredit medical billing and coding programs.
Bachelor's Degree Programs
While an associate degree represents the typical entry-level education requirement for medical billing and coding jobs, candidates with a bachelor's degree stand out in the job market and quality for positions with higher pay and greater responsibility. For example, a bachelor's in health information management or healthcare administration prepares graduates for managerial positions within healthcare organizations.
During a bachelor's degree in an allied health area like health information management, students complete classes in medical terminology, pathophysiology, EHR systems, and health informatics. Learners also build management training through classes on topics like healthcare management and project management. Many programs incorporate an internship or practicum that gives students hands-on experience in the field. Health information majors must also complete general education courses.
Earning a bachelor's degree generally takes four years for full-time students. Transfer students with prior college credits can earn a degree in less time. Graduates can pursue leadership roles in healthcare informatics, medical coding, and medical office management.
Professional certification demonstrates advanced training in health information technology, which helps professionals showcase their skills to potential employers. Most employers prefer to hire certified health information technicians. Some states require certification for certain specialties, including cancer registrars. Several organizations offer certification, including the National Cancer Registrars Association, which offers registered health information technician (RHIT) and certified tumor registrar (CTR) credentials.
RHIT certification requires at least an associate degree in health information management from an accredited program. Candidates must then pass an examination. Registered health information technicians must recertify regularly by meeting continuing education requirements.
Similarly, the CTR designation requires the successful completion of an accredited associate program and a 160-hour clinical practicum under the supervision of a CTR. Candidates must then pass an exam to earn certification. CTRs must maintain the credential by meeting continuing education requirements.
Frequently Asked Questions
Health information technology professionals can work as health information coders, medical records specialists, medical billing and coding specialists, and cancer registrars.
The average medical records and health information technician salary exceeds $40,000 a year.
Medical records and health information technicians make about $19 per hour, on average.
An associate degree in health information technology takes about two years of full-time study to complete.
Health information technicians typically must complete an associate degree in health information technology to obtain entry-level employment.
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