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California students have several options for pursuing health information technology education. Health information technology (HIT) may be described as the combination of healthcare and information technology. HIT programs may offer training in health information management, health information technology, medical coding and billing or medical transcription. They are usually found as associate degree programs, although they are also offered at the certificate or bachelor's degree levels. The programs consist of lectures, conferences and laboratory components. Directed practice courses, practical experiences and clinical internships or externships supply students with hands-on training. Full- or part-time study options may be offered. In some cases, education may be obtained online by schools that provide access to practical experiences through local medical facilities.
Graduates of HIT programs typically seek employment as health information technicians. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers several certifications for graduates of HIT programs, such as Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT), Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA), Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) and Certified Coding Associate (CCA). Outlined below are ten California-based colleges and universities that offer health information technology programs. The programs may also prepare students for industry certification exams that can help with employment outlook and advancement.
California State University - San Marcos
The HIT certificate program at California State University in San Marcos is offered through the college's extended learning division. Offered on Saturday, this program teaches students through lectures, conferences and hands-on learning experiences. Students may also have internship opportunities. This is a graduate program that consists of six courses that can be completed in two semesters. Each semester starts with an opening conference, ends with a closing conference and has all-day classes in between. Students learn about information technology and its many uses in the healthcare system.
City College of San Francisco
Graduates of the HIT associate degree program at City College of San Francisco (CCSF) in San Francisco gain highly marketable skills in collecting, processing and analyzing data related to healthcare provision, planning and research. This four-semester program includes courses in basic ICD coding, advanced ICD-9-CM coding, reimbursement methods, medical terminology I and II, disease process and organization of health data. Hands-on training is obtained through two supervised practical experiences students complete in the third and fourth semesters. Successful graduates can take the AHIMA certification exam to earn the RHIT credential. Students are required to attend an orientation session. CCSF also offers the following HIT certificate of achievement programs: health information clerk I, health information clerk II, health information technology and health information coding specialist.
Cosumnes River College
Sacramento-based Cosumnes River College (CRC) offers an HIT associate degree program that, while an online program, offers students hands-on training through unpaid internships at affiliated medical agencies. This CAHIIM-accredited program offers courses in computerized health information systems, current procedural terminology (CPT) coding and basic ICD-CM coding. Students learn about health records management in acute and non-acute healthcare settings.
Students also become familiar with state and federal laws regarding the handling of health information. This program trains students for careers as health information technicians. To earn the degree, the student must complete the HIT courses, general education courses and sufficient elective courses to meet the required 60 credits. CRC also offers an online health information coding specialist program; however, this program does not have CAHIIM accreditation.
Cypress College, located in Cypress, has an HIT associate degree program that trains students to organize and manage paper-based and electronic health records and prepares them for careers as health information managers or specialists. Students learn to read and interpret medical records, process and safeguard health information and fully understand the HIPAA (Health Information Portability and Accountability Act). This four-semester program includes courses in beginning and advanced coding, medical insurance billing, information technology, legal aspects of healthcare, CPT/ambulatory coding and healthcare statistics. Students must also complete general education courses. Upon completion of this program, students are eligible to take the RHIT exam. Cypress College also offers an HIT certificate program, a healthcare services clerk certificate program and a health information coding associate degree program.
East Los Angeles College
Located in Monterey Park, East Los Angeles College offers several state- and nationally-approved health information technology programs through its Life Sciences department. The HIT associate degree program provides students with the skills to assess, organize and maintain health information systems. This program can be completed in the evenings or on a part-time basis; full-time students who have completed prerequisite courses can complete this program in two or three semesters.
In addition to taking theory and lab courses, the student will complete a 72-hour unpaid coding specialist practical experience and a 144-hour unpaid practical experience in the health information management department of a hospital. Graduates can sit for the RHIT examination. In addition to the associate degree program, the college also offers these HIT certificates: health information coding specialist, health information coding and statistics clerk, health information technology, health information clerk typist and medical billing assistant.
Located in Fresno, this public school offers an HIT associate degree program that provides students with the skills to work as health information technicians in long-term, acute and ambulatory care settings. Topics of study include coding and reimbursement, medical terminology, management and supervision, hospital and health statistics, computer concepts and CPT coding. A directed practice course provides the student with the opportunity to work in a real or simulated work experience to obtain hands-on supervised training. Graduates of this CAHIIM-accredited program have the knowledge to take the AHIMA certification exam to become Registered Health Information Technicians. Fresno College also offers a medical coding certificate program.
Saddleback College in Mission Viejo offers a two-year health information technology associate degree program that prepares students to work as health information technicians in a variety of medical settings. The curriculum combines didactic studies with clinical externships. Many of the medical assistant courses can be transferred into this program. Once the student completes the required 60 units, which include general education courses, he or she will have earned an Associate in Science in Health Information Technology degree and can sit for the RHIT examination. Students must have liability insurance and current CPR for Healthcare Providers certification. Saddleback's HIT program is accredited by CAHIIM and is transferrable to related bachelor's degree programs at Clarkson College and Stephens College.
San Diego Mesa College
San Diego Mesa College in San Diego has an Associate of Science in Health Information Technology program that includes coursework, lab studies and supervised clinical education. Topics of study include health law and licensing standards, medical terminology, pathophysiology, hospital and health statistics, ICD-9-CM coding, CPT coding and quality assessment. Students will complete two 150-hour practical experiences working in acute care, long-term care or behavioral health facilities in healthcare settings. Prior to the start of the clinical courses, students may be required to submit to criminal background checks, drug screening and fingerprinting.
Santa Barbara City College
The HIT associate degree program at Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) in Santa Barbara offers all of its courses through distance learning, including a student orientation session. For students to successfully complete this program, they must complete general education courses as well as the HIT courses. General education courses, other than English and math, can also be completed online. Students learn to analyze health data, assign numeric codes to each procedure and manage healthcare information. Upon completion, students are eligible to sit for the national certification exam to earn the RHIT credential. SBCC graduates of this program have certification pass rates of higher than 90% for the past three years.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type and Setting||Health Information Technology Programs Offered||Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)|
|California State University - San Marcos||Four-year, public; large suburb||Health Information Technology Certificate||$7,269 in-state; $18,429 out-of-state*|
|City College of San Francisco||Two-year, public; large city||Associate in Science in Health Information Technology||$1,598 in-state; $7,554 out-of-state*|
|Cosumnes River College||Two-year, public; large city||Associate in Science in Health Information Technology||$1,104 in-state; $7,440 out-of-state*|
|Cypress College||Two-year, public; large suburb||Associate in Science in Health Information Technology||$1,138 in-state; $6,154 out-of-state*|
|East Los Angeles College||Two-year, public; small city||Associate in Science in Health Information Technology||$1,220 in-state; $6,810 out-of-state*|
|Fresno City College||Two-year, public; large city||Associate in Science in Health Information Technology||$1,194 in-state; $6,834 out-of-state*|
|Saddleback College||Two-year, public; large suburb||Associate in Science in Health Information Technology||$1,326 in-state; $5,750 out-of-state*|
|San Diego Mesa College||Two-year, public; large city||Associate of Science in Health Information Technology||$1,142 in-state; $4,670 out-of-state*|
|Santa Barbara City College||Two-year, public; small city||Associate of Science in Health Information Technology||$1,374 in-state; $8,086 out-of-state*|
Source: *NCES College Navigator