Career Definition for a Hospital Information Technician
A hospital information technician is a hospital office employee responsible for coding and entering medical records. Hospital information technology involves the use of computer software programs and direct communication with doctors and nurses to organize and track patients' personal information, the results of medical diagnoses, clinical tests and treatment effects. Hospital information technicians prepare reports for research purposes, cost-tracking and to improve the services the hospital provides patients.
|Education||Associate's degree in health information technology|
|Job Skills||Detail-oriented, analytical, work well as part of a team, communication, respect for patients' confidentiality and privacy laws|
|Mean Salary (May 2017)*||$45,580 (medical records and health information technicians in general or surgical hospitals)|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)*||13% (medical records and health information technicians)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
An entry-level position as a hospital information technician typically requires completion of a 2-year associate's degree program in health information technology. The American Health Information Management Association, www.ahima.org, describes the coursework for an A.A. in Health Information Technology as including anatomy, biology, data types, medical coding, clinical classifications, insurance and billing, legal regulations and industry-standard software programs. Many workers in the field elect to expand their employment opportunities by passing an optional exam and becoming a Registered Health Information Technologist (RHIMs).
The College Board, www.collegeboard.com recommends that aspiring Hospital Information Technicians be naturally careful and detail-oriented in order to enter and analyze large amounts of numerical data. Hospital information technicians must be comfortable working as part of a medical team and communicating with doctors, nurses and other hospital staff to obtain the information they need. The field of hospital information technology requires respect for patients' confidentiality and the laws that govern it.
Career and Economic Outlook
As both the health care industry and government requirements for electronic medical data increase, employment opportunities for health information technicians, including hospital information technicians, are expected to grow at the above-average rate of 13% from 2016-2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). Health information technicians can find work in doctors' offices, residential care facilities and outpatient centers if they choose to work outside of a hospital setting. In 2017, the average annual salary for a health information technician working in a general or surgical hospital was $45,580, according to the BLS. New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Alaska, California and Maryland are the highest paying states in the field.
For those with an interest in converting recorded physician notes into digital documents, becoming a medical transcriptionist may be a good career option. Medical transcriptionists use specialized software to compile interpreted medical data into reports and letters. They also check documents for grammar errors and make sure information is accurate.
To find employment in the field, postsecondary training is required and can be obtained through a certificate or associate degree program. These programs include coursework in medical terminology, legal issues and risk management. According to the BLS, an employment decline of 3% is predicted for medical transcriptionists between 2016 and 2026, resulting in 1,900 fewer jobs. In 2017, these workers received an average of $36,400, as shown in BLS estimates.
If organizing and managing medical files in a physician's office seems more appealing, consider becoming a medical secretary. Duties of these secretaries include scheduling patients for hospital admittance and procedures, preparing bills and insurance claims, transcribing notes and providing additional administrative support to doctors and nurses.
With a high school diploma and some computer skills, one can qualify for a job in this profession. However, some employers may prefer applicants to have some college coursework in medical terminology. The BLS stated that over 576,520 medical secretaries were employed nationwide in 2017 and earned an average salary of $35,870. They also project a 22% increase in job opportunities for medical secretaries during the 2016-2026 decade.