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Online Schools for Becoming a Medical Records Clerk: How to Choose

An associate's degree in healthcare management offers the necessary training for a career in health information technology. Bachelor's and master's degree programs can prepare students for higher-level careers in the healthcare management industry.

Many schools offer education programs for medical records clerks online. Things to consider when previewing your options include the award levels available from institutions, as well as the delivery format for them.

How to Select an Online Medical Records Clerk School

Programs for prospective medical records clerks are available from a number of online colleges. Some of these are for-profit schools. Students must look into the award level and program delivery when deciding on a school.

Award Level

Students should select a degree program level based on their career goals. Medical records clerks, or health information technicians as they are sometimes called, obtain, organize, compile, and make healthcare records easily accessible to medical personnel. Entry-level candidates usually hold an associate's degree in healthcare information. However, many employers prefer to hire technicians who are registered by the American Health Information Management Association, which requires a bachelor's degree. Medical clerks looking to advance to a managerial position in the future should also consider a master's degree in healthcare management.

Program Delivery

The most common online program is the full online immersion program, which allows students to complete their degree online without any on-campus participation. Students participate in class discussions through virtual classroom platforms, download video lectures, complete online tests, and submit homework assignments though the Internet. Those whose schedules require flexible class attendance options may wish to pursue fully online programs. Students whose learning styles benefit from some degree of face-to-face interaction may prefer to seek out hybrid programs that include some campus attendance.

Popular Online Programs for Medical Records Clerks

Online Associate of Science in Health Information Management

This type of degree program prepares students for entry-level positions as medical records clerks. The 2-year curriculum focuses on helping students abstract, analyze, and categorize medical data and to become familiar with current laws, accreditation, licensure, and certification standards related to healthcare information. Core curriculum requirements include liberal arts and science courses such as biology, communication, and mathematics. Students may also apply for a health information internship while in the program and transfer the credit towards the degree. Health information courses emphasize:

  • Medical terminology
  • Healthcare delivery systems
  • Anatomy & physiology
  • Pathophysiology
  • Pharmacology

Online Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management

Unlike in the associate's program, much of the attention of the bachelor's degree program focuses on managerial issues, such as understanding how political healthcare initiatives affect the healthcare system and the clinical classification system at large. The 4-year curriculum includes core liberal arts courses and basic healthcare coding courses but will also include many management courses. After successful completion of the online program, students are eligible to take the Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) certification exam and qualify for state certification. Coursework often includes:

  • Strategic management and policy
  • Reimbursement
  • Healthcare economics
  • Research and evaluation methodologies
  • Epidemiology

Online Master of Business Administration in Healthcare Management

An MBA program in healthcare management emphasizes the administrative, financial, legal, and managerial standards within the healthcare industry and prepares graduates to lead medical offices, clinics, and hospitals. Students in the program watch video lectures, read online class material, participate in discussions, and complete online tests. To demonstrate competency in the field, students are required to complete a final project on a topic applicable to the field and pass a final examination. The 2-year curriculum consists of courses in:

  • Government impact on business
  • Business law
  • Accounting
  • Healthcare public policy
  • Human behavior in organizations

Schools with Online Programs for Medical Records Clerks

The University of Cincinnati offers an online Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management. This program is designed for working professionals who wish to sit for the Registered Health Information Administrator exam, of which more than 90% of graduates pass. With a flexible schedule designed for students' needs, some can even finish their studies in as little as six semesters.

Southern New Hampshire University offers both a bachelor's and master's degree in healthcare management online. These degree programs teach students many of the fundamental skills needed in management positions within the healthcare field, as well as more general business techniques in the master's program. With a 24/7 virtual campus, students can complete their learning based around their schedule.

When choosing which school to enroll at for your online education, it is important to consider a number of factors. For the best opportunities in becoming a medical records clerk, students should be sure to research the kinds of programs available and the method of delivery for each one that best suits their needs.

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