Health Information Technicians
Schools and Education
|Recommended Degree Level||Certificate or Higher|
|Number of Jobs, 2012||182,370|
|Annual Job Growth Rate||3.7%|
|Job Openings per Year (est.)||7,370|
- Most registered health information technicians have an associate degree in health information technology or attend schools that offer a similar degree.
- Non-registered health information technicians usually need a postsecondary certificate.
- Some employers seek candidates who also have professional certification.
- Managerial positions may require a bachelor's degree.
Health information technology programs combine computer training with science. The programs cover the basics of the health information technician profession. Students learn about healthcare industry standards as they relate to medical coding, electronic medical records and the management and storage of patient health information.
What you study:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Medical terminology
- Classification and coding systems
- Health data requirements and standards
- Computer systems
- Healthcare statistics
Quickly highlights what health information technicians do in their work. Created for the US Dept. of Labor.
A Day in the Life
Health information technicians organize and maintain patients' medical information for healthcare organizations. As a health information technician you'll play a vital role in patient care by making sure all patient information gathered is accurate and up-to-date.
In doctors' offices, hospitals and clinics health information technicians ensure the accuracy of patient medical records to allow physician and nurses to properly care for their patients.
The specific day-to-day duties of a health information technician vary by the type of facility. In small facilities a health information technician takes care of an array of duties which may include managing the department, whereas in medium and large facilities a health information technician may specialize in one area of health information.
You'll review medical records for completeness, accuracy and for compliance with regulations. You'll also protect the security of medical records.
You'll organize patient files and entered patient information into computer systems, review lists of prescriptions and confirm medical histories. You may also confirm test results. As a health information technician you'll typically work in a records office and you don't have a lot of contact with patients. You spend a lot of time working with computers. In this occupation you'll have to pay close attention to detail.
As they advance in their career some health information technicians specialize in one area of the occupation, whereas others become independent consultants, instructors or department supervisors.
Certifications and Licensing
Most employers prefer hiring health information technicians with professional certification. Some organizations provide certification for passing an exam, however some organizations require candidates to complete an accredited program.
Health information technicians can obtain certifications such as the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) and the Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR). Cancer registrars in some states are required to have certification; requirements vary by state.
Many employees seek candidates who passed the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) exam. Candidates need at least a two-year degree from an accredited program to register with the American Health Information Management Association. Registered health information technicians recertify every two years via the AHIMA which required continuing education.
Full-time versus part-time: Most information health technicians work 40 hours per week and overtime may be required. Those working in healthcare facilities open 24 hours a day may work in the evenings or overnight shifts.
Work location: Most health information technicians working in health information management work in hospitals, doctor's offices, clinics or other healthcare facilities but some health information technicians work for government agencies or insurance companies compiling data for research and analysis.
- The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) helps those interested in becoming a health information technician make informed decisions about selecting a school and processional credentials. The AHIMA also provides information about career opportunities. The AHIMA also provides useful information about the various types of available credentials.
- The National Cancer Registrars Association (NCRA) provides information about certification and education for cancer registrars. The NCRA provides education focused on the needs of cancer registrars. The organization provides education regarding cancer prevention, treatment and cure. The National Cancer Registrars Association also offers in-person workshops, live webinars and CTR exam preparation resources. Website visitors can also review a list of NCRA accredited formal education programs.
- Healthcare Information and Management Systems (HIMSS) provides useful information on a variety of subjects and information about professional development and conferences and events. The HIMSS eLearning Academy provides distance education in healthcare information technology. The academy offers courses, webinars and educational sessions.
- Occupational Outlook Handbook -- The US Department of Labor's summary of the health information technician career is comprehensive, taking a data and an almost textbook like approach to presenting what is involved in this line of work.