Medical Records and Health Information Technicians Overview
Medical records and health information technicians should expect a much faster than average employment growth. All should enjoy very good job prospects, but they will be best for those with strong software skills. Typically applicants have an associates degree in health information/medical records technology. Uncommon to most positions in healthcare, there is not direct hands-on patient care.
Nature of the Work for Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
Medical records and health information technicians organize and manage health information such as medical history, examination results, symptoms, treatment methods and diagnostic tests, by ensuring their accuracy, accessibility, quality and security. They have regular interaction with physicians and other healthcare professionals to understand diagnoses or gain addition information.
Job responsibilities for health information technicians will continue to broaden due to the increased use of electronic health records (EHR). This technology requires technicians to understand EHR computer software, maintain EHR security and analyze electronic data to improve healthcare information. EHR software is used by health information technicians to maintain data on patient safety, patterns of disease and the results of the disease treatment. In some cases, they may contribute to the development and maintenance of health information networks.
Duties of medical records and health information technicians vary by the size of the facility. They may specialize in different aspects of health information.
Medical coders or coding specialists are those who specialize in codifying patients’ medical information for the purpose of reimbursement. Using classification systems software, they provide a code to each diagnosis and procedure. The amount that healthcare providers will be reimbursed by a patient covered by Medicaid, Medicare or other insurance programs is determined by using the system. They may use various coding systems for different departments.
Cancer registrars are medical records and health information technicians who specialize in cancer registry. They are responsible for maintaining facility, regional and national databases of cancer patients. After examining patient records and pathology reports, registrars assign codes for the diagnosis and treatment of different cancers and certain benign tumors. To track treatment, survival and recovery in order to calculate survivor rates and success rates, registrars are required to conduct annual followups with patients. This information also tracks geographic areas that have higher incidences of certain cancers and determines potential participants for clinical drug trials.
Medical records and health information technicians have no direct patient care and they often work in pleasant and comfortable offices.
Medical records and health information technicians usually work the standard 40-hour week, although overtime is sometimes required. Those who work in health facilities that are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week may work day, evening and night shifts. Technicians who work part-time amounts to about 14 percent of the total technician population.
Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement for Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
Typically, an associates degree is required for medical records and health information technicians. Common course loads include anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, data analysis, healthcare reimbursement, health data requirements and standards, database security and management, as well as clinical classification and coding systems. Chances of admission into a postsecondary degree program are improved by taking math, chemistry, biology, computer science and health in high school.
Medical records and health information technicians are usually required to have credentials. There are many organizations that offer credentials, usually after passing an exam and having a certain amount of experience in the work setting. Continuing education and regular recertification is usually required to maintain credentials. Health information technicians may receive the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) credential from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIM). In order to obtain this credential, students must graduate from an associate degree program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) and successfully complete an AHIMA-administered written examination. There are over 200 CAHIIM-accredited colleges and university degree programs.
Coders may receive credentials from the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC). Specialty coding credentials are also offered at the Board of Medical Specialty Coding (BMSC) and Professional Association of Health Care Cancer Registrars Association (PAHCS). An individual may become a Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR) by the National Cancer Registrars Association (NCRA).
Strong written and oral communication skills are necessary as they are often the liaisons between insurance companies, healthcare and other facilities. Those who have experience with appropriate technology and computer software have better prospects as employers shift to electronic health records. Continuing education is crucial to the occupation, so medical records and health information technicians should enjoy learning.
In order to advance in this career, medical records and health information technicians usually obtain a bachelors degree or masters degree or pursue advanced specialty certification. A health information manager usually has a bachelors or masters degree. Usually, advanced specialty certification is based on experience, but may require additional formal education.
Top 10 Most Popular Health Information/Medical Records Technology/Technician Schools
1. CCI Training Center, Arlington (Arlington, Texas)
2. Everest University and Everest College (Multiple Campus Locations)
3. Career Institute of Health and Technology, Brooklyn (Brooklyn, New York)
4. American Technological College (San Juan, Puerto Rico)
5. Technical Career Institutes, New York (New York, New York)
6. Sinclair Community College (Dayton, Ohio)
7. Medvance Institute (Multiple Campus Locations)
8. Spencerian College, Louisville (Louisville, Kentucky)
9. East Los Angeles College (Monterey Park, California)
10. Branford Hall Career Institute, Springfield (Springfield, Massachusetts)
Most Popular Online Health Information/Medical Records Technology/Technician Schools
1. Kaplan University - Online School
2. DeVry University - Online School
3.TUI University - Online School
4. Capella University - Online School
5. Jones International University - Online
6. Boston University - Online School
7. Fisher College - Online School
8. Rasmussen College - Online School
9. Bellevue University - Online School
Employment and Job Outlook for Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
Number of People in Profession
Changing Employment (2008-2018)
Employment is projected to grow much faster than average (increase 20% or more).
Job Opportunities & Competition
Very good to excellent job opportunities. Job openings may be more numerous than job seekers.
Medical records and health information technicians hold about 170,580 jobs and about 39 percent are in hospitals. They also work in nursing care facilities, physician’s offices, home healthcare services and outpatient care centers. Some are also employed by other facilities, such as Federal Government agencies.
Medical records and health information technicians should expect employment growth of about 20 percent, which is much faster than average for all occupations. The increase in the number of medical tests, treatments and procedures that will be formed will result in a demand for medical records and health information technicians. The occurrence of health related problems will increase as the population continues to age. Due to an increase in cancer cases, cancer registrars should experience job growth. More technicians will be needed to complete new tasks that go along with electronic data management.
High employment opportunities are expected for medical records and health information technicians. Many openings will come from those who retire or leave the occupation permanently. Medical records and health information technicians that have technology and computer software knowledge will be in high demand.
Earnings and Salary for Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
Medical records and health information technicians have a median annual wage of $31,290. The highest 10 percent earn more than $51,510, while the lowest 10 percent earn $20,850. The median annual wages for top employing industries of medical records and health information technicians are:
Federal executive branch: $42,760
General medical and surgical hospitals: $32,660
Nursing care facilities: $30,660
Outpatient care centers: $29,160
Offices of physicians: $26,210
Annual Salary for Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
On average, Medical Records and Health Information Technicians earn $31,290 per year.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook