With a certificate or associate's degree it is possible to begin a career working with electronic health records as a health information technician. Health information technicians transfer data from charts into electronic records. The majority of health information technicians work in hospitals, doctors' offices, and nursing homes.
Health information technicians input medical reports from physical charts into electronic records on secure computer databases. Most technicians type in the information or scan entire charts into each patient's system file. In most cases, several technicians compose the medical records department at hospitals. Professionals in this field may also find work at private facilities, like billing offices or research laboratories. Most health information technician positions only require an associate's degree for employment. Compensation varies greatly based on industry and location.
|Required Education||Postsecondary certificate or associate's degree|
|Recommended Certification||Registered Health Information Technician credential|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||15% for all medical records and health information technicians|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$37,110 for all medical records and health information technicians|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Electronic Health Records Job Duties
Health information technicians manage medical records; they review each patient's physical chart, including the medical history, doctor's notes and current medications. They then enter that information into an electronic database system or verify if it was entered correctly.
Sometimes technicians send records to other departments. For instance, in order to bill a patient or insurance company, each procedure or service provided needs to be assigned a particular code that refers to an agreed-upon fee. Therefore technicians frequently send electronic health records to the coding department.
Another key job duty includes running reports. Some reports deal with security procedures, such as checking who is accessing information, how long records are being reviewed and from which terminals. Other reports might compare the medical records of each patient with each office visit to check for consistency.
Employment Growth and Salaries for Electronic Health Records Jobs
Over the period spanning 2014-2024, faster-than-average 15% employment growth is projected for medical records and health information technicians, according to the BLS. In May 2015, the BLS reported that these technicians earned a median annual salary of $37,110. In that same year, the BLS showed that the states paying the highest annual mean salary were the District of Columbia ($69,290) New Jersey ($60,310), Alaska ($52,040), California ($48,590) and Maryland ($47,930). As of the same year, the BLS reported that the five top-paying industries for medical records and health information technicians were as follows:
- Other Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services: $52,940
- Computer System Design and Related Services: $52,860
- Business, Professional, Labor, Political, and Similar Organizations: $49,740
- Scientific Research and Development Services: $49,660
- Federal Executive Branch: $47,520
Electronic Health Records Career Requirements
Most positions require candidates to possess the minimum of an associate's degree, per the BLS. Several community colleges offer a 2-year Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Technology. Coursework includes medical terminology, anatomy physiology, health records systems and database maintenance.
Although certification is not required, certified technicians may have a better chance at getting a job. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), among other organizations, provides certification programs specifically for health information technicians. For example, AHIMA's Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) credential proves that the technician who possesses it knows how to use electronic records databases and how to run quality-control checks.
Applicants have to be eligible to enter a certification program, which can include a certain amount of education and job experience. After meeting the eligibility requirements, applicants must pass one or more exams to be certified. Recertification can involve retaking the exam every few years or periodically participating in approved continued-education coursework. Some organizations require both of these steps to renew credentials.
Electronics health records technicians record patient health data electronically. From 2014-2024 the number of jobs for medical records and health information technicians is expected to increase 15%, which is much faster than average when compared to all occupations. Applicants with a certificate or associate's degree can compete for jobs in this field.