Career Definition for Health Information Technicians
Health information technicians collect, organize, and analyze data used in the healthcare profession. In hospitals, doctors' offices and clinics, they ensure the accuracy of medical records so that physicians and nurses can properly care for patients. Most technicians working in health information management, also known as HIM professionals, work in healthcare facilities, but some work for insurance companies and government agencies, compiling data used for analysis and research. As their careers progress, some health information technicians specialize in one area of medicine, while others become department supervisors, instructors, or independent consultants. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts faster-than-average growth in this profession with opportunities throughout the United States.
|Education||Health information technology associate's degree, bachelor's degree, or postgraduate certificate|
|Job Skills||Medical coding skills, communication skills, knowledge of medical terminology, data entry, analyzing information|
|Median Salary*||$39,180 (2017)|
|Career Outlook*||13% (2016-2026)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Careers in this profession require an associate's degree, postgraduate certificate, or bachelor's degree in health information technology with coursework in computer science, math, and science recommended. Certification is also required by many employers. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) and Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) certification. Certification requires completion of a degree program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). AHIMA provides information about accredited HIM degree programs throughout the U.S.
Health information technology professionals must have expert knowledge of medical terminology in the Current Procedural Technology (CPT) manual issued by the American Medical Association, as well as the International Classification of Diseases (ICD). Job essentials also include medical coding skills and certifications, excellent word processing, data entry, electronic document management skills, and the ability to analyze medical transcripts. Direct patient contact is minimal; however, health information technicians must be able to communicate effectively with medical staff and coworkers.
Career and Economic Outlook
Medical record keeping is going digital at a rapid pace, and the BLS expects job opportunities for health information technicians to grow by 13% from 2016 to 2026 period. The BLS also published the median annual salary of health information technicians as $39,180 in May 2017.
Alternative Career Options
Careers that are similar include:
Health Information Manager
Health information technicians seeking career growth may be interested in becoming health information managers. These workers oversee the databases that contain health information and are responsible for maintaining the privacy of these records. While a bachelor's degree may be sufficient for this career, a master's degree in health information may provide more career opportunities.
The BLS reported in 2017 that medical and health services managers, including health information managers, had a median annual salary of $98,350. Jobs in the field of medical and health services management are projected to increase by 20% from 2016 to 2026, according to the BLS.
Like health information technicians, medical transcriptionists mainly use a computer and work in the health care field, but instead of inputting health data, medical transcriptionists translate medical information from voice recordings to written documents. These workers must have good listening skills and be knowledgeable of medical terminology. Some postsecondary courses in medical terminology, anatomy, health care law and English may be helpful for those entering this career field. Professional certification is available, but not required.
The median salary for medical transcriptionists was $35,250 in May 2017, according to the BLS. The BLS projects that this field will decline by 3% from 2016 to 2026.