Online Associate Degree in Health Information Technology

As a health information technician, you would be responsible for assembling patient data and maintaining medical records. Learn more about this degree, what an online degree program will be like and what the employment outlook is for the career. Schools offering Health Information Systems degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Why Should I Pursue an Online Associate's Degree in Health Information Technology?

If you have personal or professional responsibilities that prevent you from participating in a traditional program, you might find the flexibility of an online program particularly appealing. If you're already employed in the healthcare field and you're looking to advance your career, an online program can offer you the opportunity to apply classroom concepts directly and immediately to your work experience.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most health information technicians hold associate's degrees (www.bls.gov). You may be able to qualify for an entry-level position if you hold an undergraduate certificate, but the BLS states that most employers prefer to hire technicians who hold associate's degrees and industry certification.

Associate's degree programs in health information technology are designed to prepare you to sit for the certification examination administered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). To take the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) exam, you need to graduate from an associate's degree program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (www.ahima.org).

What Can I Expect in a Program?

If you're a full-time student, it will take up to two years to complete an associate's degree program. Online courses are usually presented asynchronously, which lets you access them 24/7 at your convenience. You may have weekly assignments, exams and peer discussions. Schools may also mandate a certain number of campus visits for reasons such as orientation or workshop participation.

In addition to taking general education courses, you'll take core courses, such as billing and coding, insurance and reimbursement, healthcare law and ethics, health information statistics, computer applications, pathophysiology, pharmacology and medical terminology. Most schools will require that you serve a supervised internship at a school-affiliated healthcare facility.

What Can You Tell Me About My Career and Salary Outlook?

In 2008, Tthe BLS projected that employment opportunities for medical records and health information technicians was expected to increase 20% from 2008-2018. By earning specialized certifications or a bachelor's degree, you can enhance your chances for advancement to a supervisory or management position. In 2010, health information technicians earned a median salary of $32,350. The lower ten percent averaged $21,240, while the upper ten percent averaged $53,430.

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