What Can I do with a Degree in Health Information Systems or Health Informatics?
Health information manager isn’t a single job title or role description. Health information management, or HIM, is actually an umbrella term used for professionals with a range of duties. A degree in health information management, and certification as an RHIT or RHIA, is at the foundation of many careers including electronic records management, billing and coding, auditing, compliance, and even cancer registry management. Through successful work experience, continuing education, and professional certification, an HIM professional can find a niche and, over time, increase salary as well as job responsibilities.
Those who are interested in setting up and maintaining electronics health information systems may pursue a career in health informatics. Some professionals choose a combined information/ informatics program at the graduate level or pursue HIM as an undergraduate and informatics as a graduate. Those with significant computer systems knowledge can help design and implement new systems.
Electronic Health Records Manager
Patient records are, to an increasing degree, going digital. Electronic health records reduce medical errors and facilitate care. The federal government is among the institutions that have an interest in implementing the EHR (and the dollars to make change happen).
There are opportunities for workers with varying levels of education and experience. An entry level technician might scan records and process chart requests. A manager with a master’s level education, meanwhile, might implement projects, develop training programs, and measure progress against industry benchmarks.
Medical Records Auditor, Analyst, or Compliance Officer
Auditors ensure that health care providers are in compliance with various regulations, from HIPAA to CMS policy. They may be employed by hospitals or payers to investigate individual claims or to aggregate data and identify trends. Electronic health records analysts also have a role in quality control and compliance. They extract, interpret, and report data. This data may drive funding decisions and ultimately improve health care.
Some HIM professionals specialize in compliance issues. They may progress to higher level management positions like Senior Compliance Analyst or Privacy Officer. Some compliance officers become experts in HIPAA; highly trained experts are needed in this emerging field.
Medical coding is another increasingly complex profession. Coding specialists must abstract information from patient charts and attach codes and qualifiers – not just to the actual diagnoses and procedures, but to other circumstances surrounding the health care. visit. HIM professionals can pursue coding certification through AAPC or AHIMA, but this is not always necessary for entry level coding. The RHIT and RHIA credentials are respected by employers – often much more so than shorter certificate programs in medical billing and coding. There’s a lot to be said just for having a degree from a respected institution.
Some individuals choose to pursue certification as a Certified Professional Coder (AAPC) or Certified Coding Specialist (AHIMA) in addition to their basic health information credentialing. Hospital coding and physician coding are significantly different, so there are separate certifying exams. Some professionals specialize further and earn AAPC certification in a particular medical specialty. Advanced knowledge in areas like radiology can be lucrative. Read more about medical coding specialists.
Cancer registrars maintain cancer-related records, from demographic information to diagnosis and treatment. Registries serve a number of purposes; they inform medical research, influence the dispersal of public health funding, and ensure that survivors have proper follow-up. There are now short degree programs focused exclusively on development and maintenance of cancer registries. However, health information managers, with their breadth of education, continue to be in demand. Read more about cancer registrars.
Electronic Health Records Developer and Analyst
An electronic health records developer and analyst is concerned with the design of electronic medical records systems, from conceptualization to implementation. In order to be a strong candidate, a person needs to be well versed in software systems.