Typically, you'll need to complete an associate's degree to learn how to work as a health information technician. Becoming registered and certified in health information technology can open the path for advancement and enhance your employment potential.
Health information technicians organize medical information and patient files. This includes entering data into computer systems, confirming medical histories and reviewing lists of prescriptions. Individuals must first complete an approved health information technology education program, usually at the associate's degree level. Then they need to pass an exam from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) in order to become registered health information technicians (RHITs). Continuing education is required to maintain certification.
|Required Education||Associate's degree in health information technology|
|Other Requirements||AHIMA certification exam for RHITs|
|Projected Job Growth||15% from 2014-2024 for all medical records and health information technicians*|
|Median Salary (2016)||$36,312 annually for RHITs**|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com
Education Information for Registered Health Information Technicians
Registered health information technicians must have a minimum of a 2-year degree from an accredited program in order to be formally registered with the American Health Information Management Association. These degree programs are offered by a variety of technical and vocational schools around the country. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most RHITs complete an associate's degree program in health information technology or a similar degree program.
Associate's degree programs in health information technology mix elements of biology with instruction in computers. Typical courses cover topics like anatomy and physiology, disease pathology and medical terminology, in addition to medical record coding and management. General education classes, like mathematics and English, are also commonly required.
After completion of a 2-year degree program, students may take the AHIMA exam for registered health information technicians. Once passed, health information technicians are officially registered. They can recertify through AHIMA every two years, which requires some continuing education. Some RHITs may choose to get further training by earning medical coding credentials from other organizations.
Registered health information technicians (RHITs) organize patients' medical information. This may require importing data into electronic medical records systems, coding charts, confirming details with other physicians, following applicable patient confidentiality laws and confirming test results. The BLS notes that health information technicians in general will be needed in increasing numbers as electronic medical records systems are deployed in more medical organizations and the general population ages. In fact, the BLS predicated a 15% growth in medical records and health information technician employment between 2014 and 2024, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.
Though you might be able to qualify for a position as a health information technician with a certificate, generally an associate's degree is required. In addition, employers usually prefer to hire health information technicians who have been certified by the AHIMA. RHITs may opt to take additional training for certification in related areas.