Online Health Records Management Degrees and Education Program Options

Dec 02, 2019

Essential Information

There are health records management programs that can be completed fully online or through hybrid formats at all three available degree levels; however, students may be required to gain professional experience through internships or clinical work experiences. Associate's degree programs prepare students to become medical records or health information technicians. Graduates of associate's degree programs may want to earn optional certification because many employers prefer this. Bachelor's and master's degree programs prepare students to become medical or health services managers. However, on-the-job experience can sometimes be substituted for a bachelor's or master's degree.

Health Records Management Associate's Degree

Students interested in this field can earn an online associate's degree in health information technology or health information management. Students are trained to manage and handle essential patient medical records in a non-clinical setting. Health information technicians are in charge of keeping track of physician orders, patient history reports and payment records. Documents and paperwork are in digital and physical forms and students are trained accordingly. Acquired skills include oral communication, organization, professional behavior and problem solving.

Information and Requirements

These degree programs are available entirely online, as well as in a hybrid format. Many schools require that students gain experience working with current technology in a local healthcare facility. In general, programs can be completed in two years. The coursework is 70-100 credit hours in length, depending on the school.

Students must use a computer with access to the Internet. It is helpful if the computer has an updated Web browser and operating system.

Typical Courses

Students must complete all of the required core courses while choosing from the elective course options available. Online courses are often asynchronous, meaning they can be taken at any time of the day.

Medical Terminology

Students gain an understanding of common prefix and suffixes used in medical terms. The course covers basic physiological terms that are most useful for the health information technician when communicating with medical personnel and insurance companies.

Health Data Management

This course teaches the use of a computer spreadsheet application to keep track of data related to healthcare. This data can include healthcare pricing, death registration and upcoming procedures, among other collected information. Students are trained in effective ways to use the spreadsheet and to clearly communicate and articulate data from a physician.

Management Fundamentals

Students acquire management skills, such as organization, planning and leadership. Emphasis is placed on developing the communication skills needed to effectively lead others .

Health Records Management Bachelor's Degree

Students earning an online bachelor's degree in health information gain an in-depth understanding of how to document patient health information and maintain health records while focusing on learning medical terminology, healthcare data laws and data classification. Students develop data management skills through handling physical paperwork and inputting information into a computer.

Information and Requirements

This degree program is most often available in a hybrid format combining online coursework with hands-on experience in a professional healthcare environment. Programs run 90-120 credit hours in length and can be completed in four years. Student with an associate's degree in the field can complete the program in less time. Students engage in streaming video lectures and communicate with professors via e-mail. Courses can be delivered in a synchronous or asynchronous manner.

Typical Courses

Students without an associate's degree take coursework in general education, as well as classes particular to the field. These latter courses teach students the tools needed to organize and maintain health records efficiently.

Healthcare Organization and Management

Students gain an understanding of clinical healthcare classifications and how data is organized. Emphasis is placed on learning how various healthcare organizations work, such as hospitals, dental offices and private clinics. Students study the licensing and accreditation process.

Healthcare Finance

This course covers topics like reimbursement, auditing, commercial payments and insurance coverage. Students also gain basic budgeting and accounting skills. In addition, basic financing principles in relation to patient coverage are explained.

Information Technology

Students learn the basics of database management and the technology used. The course focuses on electronic security measures, patient confidentiality and health information protection. Students employ the use of computers when handling these issues.

Health Records Management Master's Degree

Students interested in working as managers, as opposed to health information technicians, can earn an online Master of Science in Health Information Management or Master of Science in Information Technology with a concentration in Health Information Management. These degree programs focus on gaining the leadership and organizational skills needed to supervise health records management employees. In addition, students learn advanced data management and develop decision making skills.

Information and Requirements

Students with a bachelor's degree in health information management can enroll in this program; those with a bachelor's degree in a different subject can also enroll provided they have completed the required prerequisites. Students can find hybrid programs available, as well as programs offered entirely online. The program can be completed in two years and generally consists of around 40 credit hours per semester.

Typical Online Courses

No general education courses are required at this degree level. Some schools require the student to attend aseminar one campus in addition to completing remaining coursework online.

Health Contracts

Students gain an understanding of various health plans cover patients' needs. Focus is placed on the roles the employer plays, as well as the role of the insurance provider.


This course provides project management training. Students learn leadership and organizational skills, as well as how to utilize these skills when working with physicians, technical staff and specialists. Communication, project planning and project progress assessment are also emphasized.

Healthcare Technology Applications

Students learn about the computer applications used for data management. Students learn how to select appropriate systems and gain an understanding of their functions. Legacy system and signal-based information systems are examples of applications used.

Career Information for Graduates

Graduates become a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) by taking the qualifying exam administered by the American Health Information Management Association. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (, 215,500 health information technicians were employed nationwide, with the number expected to increase 11% from 2018-2028.

Students who hold a bachelor's degree may have the opportunity to supervise health management technicians in a medical office. However, individuals working in management in this field tend to have a master's degree.

Students who complete a bachelor's or master's degree program can take the exam administered by the American Health Information Association and become a Registered Health Information Administrator. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, health service managers held about 372,670 jobs in 2018, a number expected to increase by 18% between 2018 and 2028. The median wage was $99,730 in May of 2018.

There are a variety of health records management degrees available online at the certification, associate's degree, bachelor's degree and master's degree levels. These programs train students to manage and handle patient medical records, understand medical terminology, abide by healthcare and privacy laws, and supervise health record management employees.

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