Medical services and technologies act as the vehicle for regaining or retaining good health. Services include emergency treatment, doctors' examinations, lab tests, surgeries, diagnostic testing and wellness programs. Read on to see if this field suits you.
Medical technology refers to the products the healthcare industry used to survey patients' health and well-being as well as diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries. Medical technologies can include x-rays, MRIs, body scans, biofeedback and laboratory technologies. Potential job titles include project manager, technology manager and medical informatics officer, to name a few. You may also decide you wish to work with medical databases, where you would most likely be a medical coding specialist, who creates codes for diagnoses and maintains electronic health records (EHR) or a cancer registrar, who maintains the databases containing cancer patients' information. You can expect to most likely work in places like hospitals, outpatient care facilities and doctor's offices.
The employment outlook for medical personnel is very good over the next decade. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these professions will expand further than the average for all occupations (www.bls.gov). In fact, it is estimated that employment for medical records and health information technicians will grow by 20% from 2008-2018. In May 2010, these professionals earned an average annual wage of $35,010.
Most positions require at least an associate's degree from an accredited school or college. For instance, an Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Technology degree program would include courses in healthcare law and ethics, diagnostic and procedure coding, anatomy and physiology, organizational resources and healthcare statistics. Bachelor's degrees are also required for some positions and open the door to more job possibilities. A bachelor's degree program would require a more well-rounded education, involving numerous courses in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences in addition to courses specific to healthcare.
Most master's degree programs in medical and healthcare information technologies are designed for those who are either currently working in the healthcare industry or have a desire to do so. The goal of these degree programs is to explore how technology can improve patient medical records, financial transactions and health informatics. You should expect to learn about technology's effect on the diagnosis and treatment process by enabling efficiency. Upon completion of the program, you'll be prepared to manage healthcare solutions in a variety of settings by following technological trends and creating innovative solutions to everyday problems. Coursework may include the study of healthcare systems, financial analysis, regulatory environments, medical language and electronic health records systems.
If you are already working as a healthcare professional, then you could pursue a specialized certificate in healthcare information technology such as the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT). You would earn this credential through the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) by completing an exam as well as having completed prerequisite courses in a program such as a Healthcare Information Technology Certificate program. These programs can require between six and 12 months of study. Courses could involve the study of the United States healthcare system, project management and medical terminology. In addition, you may be required to complete a capstone project or thesis in order to earn this designation. The objective is that by the end of this type of program you would be able to analyze electronic health records systems of various healthcare environments and make them both effective and efficient.