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Health Information Technology Career Info and Education Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a health information technologist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about certification, education and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you.

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Health care informational technologists work with medical records, accounts and surveys. Their work helps prevent clerical errors and supports overall administrative effectiveness. Most health care informational technologists have degrees ranging from associate's to master's and the appropriate certification.

Essential Information

Health care information technologists are charged with ensuring files meet the strict legal and ethical standards governing medical records. These professionals also summarize accounts, interpret guidelines and process surveys. There are different educational routes for a career in health care information technology. At minimum, a postsecondary certificate and completion of a professional certification exam is needed for an entry-level position. Undergraduate and graduate degree programs are also available and may be needed for career advancement. The field of health care information technology is predicted to experience a positive job outlook.

Required Education Postsecondary certificate or associate's degree
Additional Requirements Certification required by many employers
Projected Job Growth* (2018-2028) 11% for medical records and health information technicians
Median Salary* (May 2018) $40,350 annually for medical records and health information technicians

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Health Information Technology Career Information

Health information technology (HIT) is the comprehensive management of electronic health records, including patient medical histories and billing information such as hospital entry and consent forms, medical charts and X-rays. Those employed in a health information technology career work to improve health care quality, prevent medical errors, decrease paperwork, reduce health care costs and increase administrative effectiveness. Working in health care information technology also entails securing the exchange of documents and information between medical authorities, consumers, insurers, government officials and other personnel.

Health information technology program graduates work in clinics, long-term care facilities, insurance companies, government agencies and home care providers. Many work as insurance claims analysts, patient records technicians, clinical coding specialists, patient information coordinators and health data analysts.

Education

Educational requirements vary depending on the individual's career goal, but most health information technology careers require at least an associate's degree. A background in business, computer science, English, math, biology and chemistry is a good foundation.

Degree Information

An associate's degree in health information technology prepares graduates for entry-level positions in this field. Coursework includes medical terminology, data analysis, clinical classification and coding systems, database security and management, anatomy and physiology.

A bachelor's degree prepares the graduate for administrative and management positions. Additional coursework consists of business, math, science, medicine, information management, technology and health insurance information. Graduate certificate programs are available for those with an existing bachelor's degree in another filed. These programs usually require about 15 credit hours for completion.

Master's degree programs prepare graduates for upper-level management positions overseeing medical records, billing and coding.

Certification Information

Regardless of the level of health care information technology education, the next step after graduation is to successfully complete a certification exam from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). Most employers prefer to hire graduates with a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) credential. The requirements for receiving this credential are graduation from at least a 2-year program that has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) and pass an AHIMA-administered written exam.

Employment Outlook and Salary Statistics

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), career opportunities for medical records and health information technicians should increase by 11% from 2018-2028. This growth is due to an increase in the number of medical tests, treatments, and procedures that will be performed, as well as an aging population. Also, more technicians will be needed to handle responsibilities of electronic data management. Individuals that acquire a strong understanding of technology and computer software will be in high demand.

In 2018, the BLS reported that the median salary was $40,350 annually for medical records and health information technicians. Professionals working in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing earned the highest mean salary of $62,740, per BLS.

Health information technologists manage health records such as medical histories and consent forms. They must complete the minimum of a 2-year program and pass an exam for certification, though many pursue higher degrees in science, medicine, information technology or other related fields.

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