Medical records technicians - also called medical billers and coders, medical office assistants, and health information technicians - maintain medical records at healthcare facilities. Programs typically take 1-2 semesters to complete and are designed to provide students with an understanding of how to manage records and information in a healthcare environment. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED equivalent. SAT or ACT scores may also be required.
Graduates may qualify for certification in medical coding procedures. Many organizations prefer medical records technicians to have an associate's degree, but some accept entry-level employees who have earned certificates, especially if they hold professional certification.
Medical Records Technician Certificate
Certificate programs in medical records technology include classroom lectures on healthcare administration, medical concepts, old-fashioned filing, record retrieval, and transcribing techniques. Students also learn to manage and operate the newest electronic records systems being used by healthcare facilities. Some examples of class topics include:
- Medical terminology
- Medical office administration
- Healthcare and the law
- Introductory computers
- Health information record systems
- Billing and coding
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Hospitals, physicians' offices, nursing care facilities, and other healthcare organizations employed 189,930 medical records and health information technicians in 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), which also projected strong growth in this field, 15%, for the decade 2014-2024. The median annual salary for the profession was $37,110 as of May 2015.
Certification and Continuing Education
Medical records technicians with training in billing and coding procedures have the option to earn coding certification from the American Academy of Professional Coders. Certification is also offered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). In order to achieve the AHIMA's designation of Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT), medical records clerks are required to have at least an associate's degree in the field. Graduates of a certificate program who are interested in educational opportunities beyond an associate's degree can also enroll in bachelor's or master's degree programs in health information management and healthcare administration.
In summary, students in medical records technician certificate programs learn about healthcare laws, medical vocabulary, transcribing, and the latest record-keeping technologies, among other subjects. Some employers require only a certificate, while others prefer candidates to have additional education. Growth in the industry is projected to be robust.