Health Information Technician Training

As a health information technician, you're responsible for organizing patient information in order to ensure its accuracy, reliability and accessibility. Learn more about education and certification options. Schools offering Health Information Systems degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Sort of Degree Do I Need to Become a Health Information Technician?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), an associate's degree is the most common education credential held by health information technicians. The Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) maintains an online directory of schools that offer accredited programs in health information technology and management. It includes on-campus and online undergraduate and graduate programs.

What Are Some Program Details?

Depending on whether you pursue a degree on a full- or part-time basis, it can take you more than two years to finish a program. Completion generally leads to an Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Technology. You may find that you can transfer some or all credits to a program leading to a bachelor's degree.

In addition to health information-related courses, programs always contain a specified number of general education courses. Typical core courses might address health information technology in hospitals and alternative settings, insurance forms and records, medical billing and coding, medical and legal issues, procedural and medical terminology, computer applications, electronic health records and continuous quality improvement (CQI). You'll also take medical science courses like anatomy and physiology and pathology. You'll be required to complete a number of clinical practicums or internships at a school-approved facility. Some programs offer courses designed to prepare you for a certification examination.

Online programs are actually only partially online. Labs, practicums and internships must be completed in person. Schools often help you arrange to complete your in-person components either at your place of employment or an appropriate facility near your home.

Why Should I Pursue Certification?

Though voluntary, certification attests to your training and professionalism. The BLS states that most employers prefer to hire health information technicians who have been certified.

If you earn an associate's degree through a CAHIIM-accredited program, you may be eligible to sit for a registered health information technician (RHIT) certification examination. Certification examinations are administered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). AHIMA attests that, with experience, a RHIT credential can enhance your chances for advancement, particularly if you couple it with a bachelor's degree. A bachelor's degree may also qualify you to sit for the registered health information administrator (RHIA) certification exam.

What Are Some Employment and Wage Projections?

Though many health information technicians work in doctor's offices or hospitals, you can also find them employed at governmental agencies, nursing care facilities, law offices, insurance firms and pharmaceutical companies. Job titles include entry-level coder, data analyst, quality improvement assistant and medical records technician.

The BLS projected that employment opportunities for medical records and health information technicians are expected to increase 20% from 2008-2018. This may be due in part to the increased use of electronic records, a growing senior population and a corresponding need for increased healthcare services. In 2010, the BLS determined the mean annual wage for medical and health information technicians to be $35,010 (www.bls.gov).

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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