Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
|Quick Facts: Medical Records and Health Information Technicians|
|2017 Median Pay||$39,180 per year
$18.83 per hour
|Typical Entry-Level Education||Postsecondary nondegree award|
|Work Experience in a Related Occupation||None|
|Number of Jobs, 2016||206,300|
|Job Outlook, 2016-26||13% (Faster than average)|
|Employment Change, 2016-26||27,800|
Medical Records and Health Information Technicians Career, Salary and Education Information
What Medical Records and Health Information Technicians Do
Medical records and health information technicians, commonly referred to as health information technicians, organize and manage health information data by ensuring that it maintains its quality, accuracy, accessibility, and security in both paper files and electronic systems. They use various classification systems to code and categorize patient information for insurance reimbursement purposes, for databases and registries, and to maintain patients’ medical and treatment histories.
Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
Duties of Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
Health Information Technicians typically do the following:
Review patients’ records for timeliness, completeness, accuracy, and appropriateness of data
Organize and maintain data for clinical databases and registries
Track patient outcomes for quality assessment
Use classification software to assign clinical codes for insurance reimbursement and data analysis
Electronically record data for collection, storage, analysis, retrieval, and reporting
Maintain confidentiality of patients’ records
Health information technicians document patients’ health information, including their medical history, symptoms, examination and test results, treatments, and other information about healthcare services that are provided to patients. Their duties vary by employer and by the size of the facility in which they work. Although health information technicians do not provide direct patient care, they work regularly with registered nurses and other healthcare professionals. They meet with these workers to clarify diagnoses or to get additional information to make sure that records are complete and accurate.
The increasing adaptation and use of electronic health records (EHRs) will continue to change the job responsibilities of health information technicians. Technicians will need to be familiar with, or be able to learn, EHR computer software, follow EHR security and privacy practices, and analyze electronic data to improve healthcare information.
Medical coders typically do the following:
Review patient information for preexisting conditions, such as diabetes, so patient data can be coded properly
Assign appropriate diagnoses and procedure codes for patient care, population health statistics, and billing purposes
Work as a liaison between the healthcare providers and billing offices
Cancer registrars typically do the following:
Review patients’ records and pathology reports to verify completeness and accuracy
Assign classification codes to represent the diagnosis and treatment of cancers and benign tumors
Conduct annual followups to track treatment, survival, and recovery
Compile and analyze cancer patient information for research purposes
Maintain facility, regional, and national databases of cancer patients
Work Environment for Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
Medical records and health information technicians held about 206,300 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of medical records and health information technicians were as follows:
Hospitals; state, local, and private: 36%
Offices of physicians: 19%
Administrative and support services: 8%
Professional, scientific, and technical services: 7%
Medical records and health information technicians typically work in offices and may spend many hours in front of computer monitors. Some technicians may work from home.
Most health information technicians work full time. In healthcare facilities that are always open, such as hospitals, technicians may work evening or overnight shifts.
How to Become a Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
Health information technicians typically need a postsecondary certificate to enter the occupation, although some may need an associate’s degree. Certification is often required.
Postsecondary certificate and associate’s degree programs in health information technology typically include courses in medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, communication, health data requirements and standards, classification and coding systems, healthcare reimbursement methods, healthcare statistics, and computer systems. Applicants to health information technology programs may increase their chances of admission by taking high school courses in health, computer science, math, and biology.
A high school diploma or equivalent and previous experience in a healthcare setting are enough to qualify for some positions, but most jobs for health information technicians require postsecondary education.
Analytical skills. Health information technicians must understand and follow medical records and diagnoses, and then decide how best to code them in a patient’s medical records.
Detail oriented. Health information technicians must be accurate when recording and coding patient information.
Integrity. Health information technicians work with patient data that are required, by law, to be kept confidential. They must exercise discretion and a strong sense of ethics when working with this information in order to protect patient confidentiality.
Interpersonal skills. Health information technicians need to be able to discuss patient information, discrepancies, and data requirements with other professionals such as physicians and finance personnel.
Technical skills. Health information technicians must use coding and classification software and the electronic health record (EHR) system that their healthcare organization or physician practice has adopted.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Most employers prefer to hire health information technicians who have certification, or they may expect applicants to earn certification shortly after being hired. A health information technician can earn certification from several organizations. Certifications include the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) and the Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR), among others.
Some organizations base certification on passing an exam. Others require graduation from an accredited program. Many coding certifications also require coding experience in a work setting. Once certified, technicians typically must renew their certification regularly and take continuing education courses.
A few states and facilities require cancer registrars to be certified. Certification as a Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR) requires completion of a formal education program and experience, along with passing an exam.
Technicians may advance to a position as a medical or health services manager after completing a bachelor’s or master’s degree program and taking the required certification courses. Requirements vary by facility.
salaries for Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
The median annual wage for medical records and health information technicians was $39,180 in May 2017. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less.
Median annual wages for Medical Records and Health Information Technicians are as follows:
Professional, scientific, and technical services: $42,420
Hospitals; state, local, and private: $42,090
Administrative and support services: $40,590
Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities): $36,500
Offices of physicians: $34,250
Job Outlook for Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
Employment of health information technicians is projected to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. An aging population will require more medical services, and health information technicians will be needed to organize and manage the older generations’ health information data. This will mean more claims for reimbursement from insurance companies.
Job Prospects for Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
Prospects will be best for those with a certification in health information, such as the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) or the Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR). As EHR systems continue to become more common, health information technicians with computer skills will be needed to use them.
Employment, 2016: 206,300
Projected Employment, 2026: 234,100
Change, 2016-2026: +13%, +27,800
Careers Related to Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
Information clerks perform routine clerical duties such as maintaining records, collecting data, and providing information to customers.
Medical and health services managers, also called healthcare executives or healthcare administrators, plan, direct, and coordinate medical and health services. They might manage an entire facility, a specific clinical area or department, or a medical practice for a group of physicians. Medical and health services managers must direct changes that conform to changes in healthcare laws, regulations, and technology.
Medical assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks in the offices of physicians, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities. Their duties vary with the location, specialty, and size of the practice.
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Medical records and health information technicians, commonly referred to as health information technicians, organize and manage health information data. They ensure that the information maintains its quality, accuracy, accessibility, and security in both paper files and electronic systems. They use various classification systems to code and categorize patient information for insurance reimbursement purposes, for databases and registries, and to maintain patients' medical and treatment histories.
Pharmacy technicians help pharmacists dispense prescription medication to customers or health professionals.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Medical Records and Health Information Technicians, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-records-and-health-information-technicians.htm