Online Medical Records Degrees by Program Level

Dec 04, 2019

Essential Information

Aspiring medical records and health information technicians can find online associate's degree programs. These programs are available in both fully online and hybrid formats which cover coding and data management. To enroll, students must have a high school diploma or GED. Those who want to work in managerial positions can find online bachelor's and master's degree programs. Bachelor's degree programs feature all or nearly all of the classes online, and degree completion programs can be completed in two years. Bachelor's programs provide further education in healthcare organization, epidemiology and computer systems. Within a fully online master's degree program, students have the option to complete the work on their own schedule, but must complete assignments by a deadline.

Medical Records Technician Online Associate's Degree

An online medical records technician associate's degree program trains students in the coding, filing, retrieval and maintenance of paper-based and electronic medical records. The aim of the program is to produce workers who can keep records that are accurate, complete and secure yet also accessible. A high school diploma or GED is required to enroll in a medical records associate's degree program. Medical records technicians may also be referred to as health information technicians.

Information and Requirements

A distance learning medical records technician associate's degree program may be pursued online or as a hybrid of online and traditional study. Assigned readings, lectures and most student-teacher and student-to-student interaction are handled through a school's website. E-mail and phone conferencing may also come into use. Students are expected to adhere to assignment deadlines, but otherwise may access course work at their convenience. An associate's degree is typically completed in two years.

Students need a personal computer, Internet access and productivity software to participate in an online program. A broadband connection is recommended.

List of Common Medical Records Technician Courses

An associate's degree program includes a general education component. However, some general education courses may still emphasize medical subjects, such as anatomy and physiology.

Health Data Management Introductory

This course covers basic procedures health care providers and government agencies follow in the collection and use of health data. Coursework emphasizes data analysis, data presentation and computation of medical care rates.

CPT Coding

Students learn Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) coding practices used in hospitals and physician offices. Use of encoders and data entry procedures are also among the topics covered.

Information Quality Maintenance and Regulations

The robust management of medical records as legal documents and as private communication between physician and patient is the primary focus of this course, which emphasizes record maintenance in support of acute care.

Bachelor's Degree in Health Information Management (HIM)

The majority of online bachelor's degree programs in health information management are degree completion programs for students who have earned a medical records technician or health information technician associate's degree from an accredited institution. Bachelor's programs aim to convey an understanding of HIM ethical, legal and professional standards, organizational systems and best practices for finding and using information resources.

Information and Requirements

Students need a personal computer, Internet access and basic productivity software to take part in an online bachelor's degree HIM program. All or nearly all course work may be completed online. Students may access program materials at their convenience through a school's website, but must complete lessons or assignments by fixed deadlines. Bachelor's degree completion programs are typically completed in two years.

List of Common HIM Bachelor's Degree Courses

General education courses in the arts, humanities and social sciences are likely to be part of an online bachelor's degree program.

Healthcare Organization

This course examines fundamental concepts in the business organization of healthcare providers and healthcare systems. The influence of accrediting agencies and licensing requirements on healthcare organizations receives particular emphasis.


Students in this course learn principles of epidemiology and how epidemic study may prevent or control the spread of diseases within a defined population. Topics covered include methods of collecting and analyzing biostatistical data.

Healthcare IT Systems

This course covers the implementation and management of information technology systems to support health care services. Database design, database security and privacy protection are among the topics considered.

Master's Degree in Health Information Management

An online master's degree program in health information management draws heavily on concepts from information technology and business administration to train professionals capable of operating or supervising a health records system. The design and implementation of health information systems, employee management and evaluation, information distribution policies and information security are among the competencies students gain from a master's program. Enrollees need to have earned a bachelor's degree, preferably in computer science or the biological sciences with at least a 3.0 grade point average.

Information and Requirements

An HIM master's degree is typically earned in two years. Coursework may be completed entirely online or through a combination of online and traditional classroom study. Assignments have fixed deadlines, but all assignments and lectures are accessible at any time through a school's website. A personal computer, Internet access and productivity software are the primary technical requirements for participation in an online program.

List of Common HIM Master's Degree Courses

Online master's degree programs are usually divided into a set of core course and a list of electives. Programs may also offer a thesis option and non-thesis option.

Clinical Outcome Assessment

This course explores how health information can facilitate effective, low cost patient-centered treatment approaches. Course content stresses the importance of epidemiological principles and statistical analysis.

Healthcare Communications

Students evaluate methods of communication within and between healthcare facilities. Communication technologies, standards and system configurations are among the topics considered.

Information Security

This course examines in-depth the technologies and procedures used to secure medical data. Risk assessment and prevention are points of emphasis in the syllabus.

Career Information

An online medical records technician associate's degree qualifies degree holders for entry-level positions as medical record and health information technicians. Although certification isn't legally mandated, most employers prefer to hire applicants who have passed the Registered Health Information Technician national certification examination. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected 11% growth (much faster than the average for all occupations) in employment of medical records and health information technicians over the years 2018-2028 ( The BLS reported a median annual salary of $40,350 for medical records and health information technicians as of May 2018.

An online bachelor's degree in health information management may qualify degree holders for entry-level positions as a health information manager at smaller medical facilities and in physicians' offices. Typical job duties include keeping computer hardware and software up-to-date, maintaining health information databases and maintaining compliance with legislative requirements.

An online master's degree in health information management qualifies degree holders to assume management and executive-level positions with large and small medical care providers as medical and health services managers. The BLS projected that employment of medical and health services managers would grow at least 18% over the years 2018-2028, faster than the average for all occupations. As of May 2015, the BLS reported a median annual salary of $99,730.

Continuing Education Information

Associate degree holders who want to move into medical services administration positions can consider a bachelor's degree in health information management, and then a master's degree. Several schools offer online bachelor's degree and master's degree programs.

Information technology professionals who want to move into the medical field or workers in the health information field who want to move into executive and supervisory level positions can consider earning a master's degree in health information management.

Medical records technician associate's programs can be completed entirely online and are designed to train students in filing, coding and retrieving medical records. Individuals interested in management positions in medical records have the option of enrolling in bachelor's and master's programs that are also offered online.

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