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What is a health information technician...is this the right job for me?

Working in health information technology is a great way to enter the workforce in the growing health care industry, and it requires only an associate degree. A health information tech is a unique job in health care, because it is one of the few jobs in health care that does not involve direct personal care. These workers work in the area of medical records. They manage and organize medical data, ensuring the accuracy and the security of them. They can also track patterns of disease, treatment outcomes, as well as maintaining and updating software and developing networks. Health info techs can also specialize in types of information, such as in medical coding or in maintaining cancer registrars.

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Health information technician job description

Because health records are increasingly kept electronically, (referred to as electronic health records, or EHR), this job will continue to grow and be in high demand. To work as a health info tech, you will need to have sharp software and computer skills. You will also need good communication skills, as you will be in regular contact with other health care workers, making clarifications and obtaining information. This job is perfect for those interested in working in health care on the technology or informational side. Info techs do not work with people one-on-one, the way a nurse, medical assistant, or medical technician would. They also work typical office hours. If they work in health facilities that are open beyond 40-hours a week, they may be required to work odd hours or overtime, however the majority does not. According to BLS, 14% worked part-time in 2008, so that is also an option for people dedicating time to families or continued study.

Health info tech training and education

You will need an associate degree from a community college or online distance learning program in order to pursue this career path. Many community colleges have specific programs that prepare you for this job. When you search for the right program for you, you should make sure it is accredited by Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). Courses that you take will cover the tech side, such as database security, data analysis, coding and classification systems, and information management. Coursework will also cover the medical side, such as medical terminology, anatomy, and physiology. Any additional training in science or computer science would boost your competitive edge. Continuing education will also be important, as technology is always changing, and medicine will be on the forefront of that, utilizing the latest and most efficient systems.

Is becoming certified important?

Becoming certified is also important to discerning employers. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) hosts a Commission on Certification for Health Informatics and Information Management (CCHIM). This organization offers certification exams to be credentialed as a registered health information technician (RHIT). There are also certification exams for medical coders, should you go that route, offered by the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC). Certification generally involves passing a written exam given by the AHIMA. While this certification is voluntary, certification in any medical specialty will always give you a competitive edge and demonstrate your capabilities and commitment to your field.

Health information technician salary and advancement opportunities

The median annual salary for a health info tech was $30,610 in 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The highest ten percent can earn over $50,000. Another bonus for this job is the excellent projections for growth. Like most jobs in health care, info tech jobs are expected to grow much faster than average, according to BLS. The BLS projects this to grow by 20% through 2018. And the stronger your tech skills, the better your outlook is in this field. In 2008, three were approximately 172,500 jobs, with almost 40% of them in hospitals. However, they can also work in physiciansí offices, nursing homes, clinics, and for home health care providers, or even for federal government agencies. There is also room for advancement within health information technology in management, should you later choose to earn your bachelorís degree or even your masterís. An associate degree generally requires two years of study, so find the right accredited program for you and you can soon have a promising career in health information technology.

To learn more about becoming a health info tech, you may wish to explore schools that offer health informatics programs. You may also be interested in learning more about the certification process for health information technicians across the country.

Schools Offering CAHIIM Accredited Programs Online

Herzing University:

Select a Program:

  • BS - Health Information Management

Hodges University:

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  • AS - Health Information Management

National American University:

Select a Program:

  • AAS - Health Information Technology

Rasmussen College:

Programs: Online

  • Health Information Technology - Associate's

University of Cincinnati:

Programs: Online

  • Health Information Management - Bachelor of Science

University of Illinois at Chicago:

Programs: Online

  • MS - Health Informatics

Western Governors University:

Select a Program:

  • BS in Health Informatics