Health information management specialists work with medical records and patient security and privacy. They need at least an associate's degree, preferably in health information management. Additional education or certification may help to increase job opportunities for those interested in health information management.
Health information management specialists help protect the privacy and accuracy of patients' medical records. They frequently have roles in billing and diagnostic coding, as well. HIM specialists typically have an associate's degree in health information management as well as earn certification as a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT).
|Required Education||Associate's degree|
|Certification||RHIT certification often preferred|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||15% for all medical records and health information technicians*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$37,110 per year for all medical records and health information technicians*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The salary of health information specialists depends on a variety of factors, including the size of the employer, education, on-the-job experience and professional specialty. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2015, the median salary for medical records and health information technicians was $37,110 per year. The highest paid professionals worked for the scientific, professional and technical services industry, while those who worked in physicians' offices reported much lower earnings.
Most health information management specialists focus on patient security or privacy, coding or records administration. Many professionals are employed by hospitals, where they work with patient care data and ensure proper insurance payment reimbursement, the accuracy of data for public health records and the security of patients' electronic health records information. Other professionals may work for government agencies, insurance companies or other health care facilities.
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In order to find an entry-level position, aspiring health information management specialists need to be familiar with basic medical vocabulary and insurance coding techniques. Most employers hire candidates that have earned an associate's degree in health information management. Students should look for programs accredited by the Commission for Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). Courses in these programs focus on topics that include medical terminology, anatomy, medical coding, statistics and database security.
Those who have completed an associate's degree or bachelor's degree through a school accredited by CAHIIM are qualified to take the credentialing exam to become a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT). Earning the RHIT credential may result in higher pay or increased opportunities for career advancement.
Opportunities for Advancement
With additional education and experience, many health information technicians are eligible to advance to managerial positions with increased responsibility. Interested candidates who have completed a bachelor's degree program in health information management are qualified to take a certification exam to become Registered Health Information Administrators. Those interested in working with the development of health care databases and records security might look into earning a master's degree in medical informatics or biomedical informatics in order to pursue careers in research analysis.
Because health information management specialists work with multiple sides of the medical industry, they should have an understanding of medical terminology as well as practical skills in database entry. These skills can be picked up during an associate's degree program in health information management. According to the BLS, medical records and health information technicians are expected to see faster-than-average job growth of 15% from 2014-2024.