Career Definition of a Medical Records Technician
Medical records technicians play a crucial role in ensuring that physicians' offices, outpatient clinics and hospitals remain organized and maintain thorough records of patients' visits, including symptoms, test results and medical histories. Using computer programs and filing systems, medical records technicians input and update information for doctors' and insurance companies' reference. Some specialize in standard coding systems used to categorize conditions, treatments and diagnoses for insurance processing, while other medical records technicians pursue further education and training to enter the medical information management field, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), www.bls.gov.
|Education||Completion of a certificate or 2-year associate's degree in MT or HIM|
|Job Skills||Detail-oriented, computer proficient, knowledge of medical records procedures|
|Average Salary (2017)*||$42,820 (health information and medical records technicians)|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)*||13% job growth (health information and medical records technicians)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
To enter the medical records technology field, most people earn a certificate in medical technology (MT), which takes three to six months, or a 2-year associate degree in medical technology or health information management (HIM); HIM programs must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). Graduates of an accredited associate degree program are then qualified to take a certification exam administered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), www.ahima.org, to earn the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) designation. Coding specialists may become certified in coding, as well, through the Board of Medical Specialty Coding, the Professional Association of Healthcare Coding Specialists (PAHCS), or the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC).
Medical records technicians must be extremely detail-oriented, proficient with computer systems and technology, and thoroughly familiar with general medical concepts and terminology. Working knowledge of medical records procedures and organization is important as well, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), www.opm.gov. For coders, a high degree of accuracy in using standard industry codes is imperative, as medical facilities depend on their work for Medicare and insurance reimbursements.
Per BLS figures, job opportunities for medical records technicians are expected to rise 13% during the 2016-2026 decade. Medical coding skills will be especially in demand among employers as government healthcare regulations change and insurance systems evolve. The BLS reports that the average annual salary for health information and medical records technicians was $42,820 in May 2017.
Alternate Career Options
Other careers in this field to consider include:
Completion of a postsecondary training program in medical transcription is normally required for these workers to secure employment listening to doctors' and other health providers' voices and converting them into a written format. Employment growth is projected by the BLS to decline by 3% for this profession from 2016-2026. In 2017, the BLS reported an average yearly wage of $36,400 for medical transcriptionists.
Medical and Health Services Manager
At least a bachelor's degree, but sometimes a master's degree in health administration, public health or business administration, is required to become a medical and health services manager. These professionals manage healthcare facilities, group practices or certain clinical areas, and they expected much faster than average job growth of 20% from 2016-2026, based on BLS predictions. The BLS also reported that these managers earned $111,680 per year, on average, in 2017.