Health Data Coordinator
Health data coordinators, also known as health information specialists and technicians, classify and manage patient medical records and statistical data for health care facilities such as hospitals and physicians' offices. Health data coordinators may also review client charts for accuracy, code medical procedures, and ensure patient confidentiality. Many work hours may be spent sitting at a desk and looking at a computer monitor. Those who work in hospitals or other facilities open around the clock may work night, weekend, and holiday hours.
|Degree Level||Postsecondary certificate or associate's degree|
|Degree Field||Health information technology|
|Certification||Registered health information technician (RHIT) certification commonly required|
|Experience||1 or more years in a health information-type setting|
|Key Skills||Strong interpersonal, communication, technical, and analytical skills, as well as attention to detail|
|Salary (2015)||$37,110 per year (Median salary for medical records and health information technicians)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2014), job postings by employers (December 2012)
Now let's check out the career steps for health data coordinators.
Step 1: Earn a Certificate or Associate's Degree in Health Information Technology
While some health data jobs require only a high school diploma, other positions may require a postsecondary certificate or, more commonly, an associate's degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), students on the path to earning associate's degrees in health information technology can expect to take courses in medical terminology, data analysis, anatomy and physiology, and standards for health data and coding. Students who plan to become certified after graduation should ensure their associate's degree programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM).
To really shine, consider obtaining an entry-level job in a health-related setting. Because many health information technology-related jobs require previous work experience, individuals who are serious about their futures may wish to obtain entry-level, health-related jobs while enrolled in their postsecondary educational programs. By working in a health-related setting while in school, prospective health data workers gain experience that will increase their skills and overall knowledge of the health field.
Step 2: Get Certified
Many employers prefer to hire individuals who have earned the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) certification. Successful graduates or individuals who are in their final term of study of accredited health information technology associate's degree programs are eligible to take the RHIT certification exam offered through the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). Because most employers seek job candidates with this certification, becoming an RHIT may be essential for professional growth.
RHIT-certified individuals should keep in mind that, in order to keep their credentials, re-certification must take place every two years. Re-certification involves the completion of 20 continuing education units (CEU), which are typically in the form of educational classes. A recertification fee must also be paid.
Step 3: Obtain a Health Information Technology Position
Once prospective health data coordinators have earned their postsecondary degrees, earned their RHIT certifications, and gained relevant work experience, they may begin looking for health information technology positions. These positions are common in hospitals, nursing homes, labs, and physicians' offices. Job seekers should keep in mind that they may have to work for a certain length of time or at multiple jobs before their ideal positions come along.
Step 4: Consider Completing Continuing Education/Advance
Workers in the health information technology field who further their education by earning bachelor's and master's degrees may be more likely to advance in the industry. Advanced education may result in more advanced positions, such as health information manager or health services manager. In this high-tech field with many areas of specialization, there are many directions in which health data coordinators can grow professionally.
To recap, with a postsecondary education, work experience, and professional credentials, a health data coordinator can earn about $37,000 a year to review client charts for accuracy, code medical procedures, and ensure patient confidentiality.