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This guide covers important information for prospective health information technicians, including education requirements, job responsibilities, and potential salaries.
As a subset of the larger information technology field, health information technology incorporates interdisciplinary competencies from health and computer science. Health information technology professionals work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, insurance companies, and government agencies, collecting, interpreting, and protecting patient-related data.
Health information technology programs provide students with the tools and skills needed to develop, manage, and support electronic health record systems. This guide covers important information for prospective health information technicians, including education requirements, job responsibilities, and potential salaries.
What Do Health Information Technicians Do?
Health information technicians work in acute care and long-term medical facilities, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and outpatient clinics. They also work in private doctors’ offices, government agencies, and insurance companies. Tasked with collecting, managing, and protecting patient data, health information technology professionals may also work with software companies to develop safe and effective record collections systems.
JOB DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Health information technicians work with documents related to patient health. As medical coders, health information software specialists, and healthcare professionals, health information technicians review medical records and organize data while checking it for accuracy and clarity.
Health information technicians may also manage electronic records systems, securing the privacy of information while backing up content and creating reports. Additional duties include submitting and processing patient data for medical reimbursement, cataloging patient records in accordance with regulatory practices, and retrieving medical data for physicians and patients.
KEY SKILLS FOR HEALTH INFORMATION TECHNICIANS
Health information technology degree and certificate programs foster technology, communication, and critical-thinking skills. The interdisciplinary nature of health information technology programs prepares students to work with financial information, medical terminology, and software management while building writing, reading, and listening skills.
Health information technology professionals also need interpersonal communication skills to interact with medical providers, patients, and insurance representatives. With privacy and attention to detail being key elements of health information maintenance, health information technicians need high levels of integrity.
MEDICAL DATA ENTRY
Health information technicians study medical terms and coding systems used by healthcare professionals worldwide. By studying medical terminology, medical codes, and various software systems, health information professionals can prepare billing reports, categorize medical care appropriately, and document patient data.
COMPUTER SOFTWARE SUPPORT
Health information technicians must know how patient care software systems are built, used, and maintained. Through software updates, upgrades, and data backups, health information technicians make sure data is secure and that the software runs effectively.
ATTENTION TO DETAIL
Health information technicians read detailed reports, often transferring information into electronic records systems. As they assess and deliver patient information, health information technicians must maintain accuracy to ensure quality patient care.
Health information technicians must adhere to privacy regulations for patient and medical information from federal and state governing bodies and healthcare organizations.
Health information technicians must effectively communicate with medical professionals, patients, and insurance companies. Many medical records specialists work in an office setting and must provide quality customer service while cooperating with colleagues and the public.
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How Much Do Health Information Technicians Make?
Entry-level health information technicians with associate degrees can advance to leadership roles by earning a bachelor’s degree.
The earning potential for health information technicians varies by setting, job function, location, and experience. Health information technicians who work in the nonprofit or public healthcare sector may earn less than their counterparts in private insurance companies or medical facilities. Jobs in urban settings may also pay higher salaries than those in rural locations.
Typically, a health information technician’s salary increases with experience and education. Entry-level health information technicians with associate degrees can advance to leadership roles by earning a bachelor’s degree. With graduate degrees, health information technicians can take executive roles, such as chief information officer.
WHAT’S MY EARNING POTENTIAL AS A HEALTH INFORMATION TECHNICIAN?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical records and health information technicians earn an annual median wage of $40,350. Within hospital settings, that number goes up to $43,470. In nursing care and physicians’ offices, salaries fall short of this number, but in managerial positions, health information professionals earn an annual median wage of $49,470.
As health information technology professionals gain experience and education, their earning potential significantly increases. Managerial positions in health services pay $99,730 annually, on average.
WHAT’S THE JOB OUTLOOK FOR HEALTH INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY CAREERS?
The job outlook for health information technology careers remains strong. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects health information technology careers to increase 13% by 2026, almost twice the national average. Medical and health services managers are projected to experience an even larger increase at 20%.
How Do I Become a Health Information Technician?
Entry-level health information technology jobs require a postsecondary certificate or associate degree. Students can study medical coding, health information technology, medical transcription, or related topics to gain fundamental knowledge of the healthcare system and patient data record-keeping. Learners with a background in nursing, radiology, or comparable experience in a healthcare setting may also qualify for an entry-level position.
With a bachelor’s degree, learners can advance to managerial and administrative roles while a master’s degree leads to executive positions. Students pursuing a master’s degree in health information technology study leadership, information management, and healthcare informatics.
Entry-level positions generally do not require experience in health information technology, but professional experience can increase hiring and earning potential. Health information technology programs often integrate internships and practicums into the curriculum, giving students hands-on experience that prepares them to work immediately upon graduation. Often, internships and practical placements transition to employment upon graduation as well.
Where Can I Work as a Health Information Technician?
Health information technicians work in a variety of industries, including healthcare corporations, software companies, and government agencies. Healthcare information technicians planning to work in physicians’ offices, health clinics, or nonprofit organizations can find jobs in urban and rural areas.
The number of health information technician positions varies by state, with the highest numbers located in large states, like California and Texas. Major metropolitan areas similarly offer high employment levels. Jobs in urban settings typically offer higher salaries than those in rural locations, but the cost of living is often higher in urban settings as well. The following map outlines health information technician employment and wage information for each state.
STATE, LOCAL, AND PRIVATE HOSPITALS
Health information technicians in state, local, and private hospitals record, assess, and collect patient health data. They may also code medical treatments, prepare admission and discharge papers, and send billing reports and statements to patients. Median Salary: $43,470
PROFESSIONAL, SCIENTIFIC, AND TECHNICAL SERVICES
Within professional, scientific, and technical settings, health information technicians work in electronic record systems to store, interpret, and secure patient data. They may also consult with healthcare facilities and provide technical support as needed.Median Salary: $41,890
ADMINISTRATIVE AND SUPPORT SERVICES
Health information technicians in administrative and support service positions monitor patient data, update and upgrade healthcare records systems, and provide clerical and technical assistance. Median Salary: $41,800
NURSING CARE FACILITIES
In nursing care facilities, health information technicians keep track of patient care, documenting and coding diagnoses, treatments, and rehabilitative services. They also submit claims to insurance companies and handle medical billing. Median Salary: $37,630
OFFICES OF PHYSICIANS
Within physicians’ offices, health information technicians provide clerical, administrative, and record-keeping services. They enter diagnostic, treatment, and patient data; submit claims to insurance companies; bill patients; and ensure the efficiency and accuracy of medical data.Median Salary: $35,520
How Do I Find a Job as a Health Information Technician?
Students increase their hiring potential for health technician jobs with certifications, education, and experience. By highlighting internships and practical placements on their resume, candidates demonstrate valuable experience in the field. Displaying certifications from professional organizations, healthcare agencies, and software applications also strengthens job prospects.
Career service offices at colleges and universities provide resume writing assistance and information on job openings. Job boards, networking opportunities, and resume assistance offered through professional organizations also open avenues for employment. Students interested in working in a rural setting can find resources at the National Rural Health Resource Center, while individuals looking for jobs in specific states can find assistance from state associations, such as the California Health Information Association and the New York Health Information Management Association.
Professional resources provide students and graduates with networking, education, and advocacy opportunities. Many organizations and agencies host conferences and other face-to-face opportunities in addition to ample online resources.
American Academy of Professional Coders
As the largest training and credentialing program for medical coding professionals in the world, AAPC offers more than 190,000 members access to education programs, networking opportunities, and software resources. AAPC also offers a code of ethics, online apprenticeship programs, and auditing and compliance assistance alongside webinars, workshops, and local chapter events.
Agency For Healthcare Research and Quality
AHRQ combines research and practice in the interest of tracking changes to healthcare systems. AHRQ works with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to facilitate higher quality, more accessible, and more affordable healthcare around the country. AHRQ offers information on grants, funding, research, and healthcare policies on its website.
American Health Information Management Association
AHIMA is a leader in health information managerial knowledge. AHIMA works with more than 50 affiliate associations to offer trainings, certifications, student and career information, and advocacy programs to health information professionals.
The American Medical Informatics Association
AMIA works with science, education, and informatics professionals to build awareness of healthcare information practices and procedures. Founded in 1988, AMIA hosts meetings, research programs, and collaborations within the medical informatics community while providing members with access to publications, policy updates, and career information.
The American Nursing Informatics Association
Tasked with advancing nursing informatics among practicing nurses and their associates, ANIA fosters education, research, and practical efforts within the nursing community. It seeks to improve healthcare by facilitating nursing science, computer science, and information science collaborations.
American Telemedicine Association
ATA focuses on advancing healthcare technologies by promoting telemedical access and programs. ATA advocates on behalf of telemedical normalization and provides accreditations, networking resources, and policy updates alongside webinars and learning programs.
Health Care Compliance Association
Founded in 1996, HCCA promotes understanding of compliance regulations and integrity of ethical practice. HCCA holds national conferences and offers certifications to health compliance workers. Additional resources include a job board, publications, and training programs.
Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society
As a global organization, HIMSS focuses on improving healthcare through information and technology by bringing together practitioners, corporations, and government agencies. HIMSS offers collaboration opportunities, professional development programs, and an extensive resource library.
Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel
By working with private and public sectors, HITSP developed standards to ensure interoperability among healthcare software applications throughout the United States. HITSP continues to engage with local, regional, and national health information networks and offers educational programs, outreach, and regular meetings to facilitate continued cooperation.
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology
Located within the Office of the Secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the ONC supports the adoption and exchange of health information technology to improve healthcare practices. It coordinates efforts to ensure the effective and efficient exchange of electronic health information.