A Health Information Technician is a unique job in healthcare because it has a solid career pathway that does not involve direct personal care.

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Job Tasks:

  • Protect the security of medical records to ensure that confidentiality is maintained.

  • Review records for completeness, accuracy and compliance with regulations.

  • Retrieve patient medical records for physicians, technicians or other medical personnel.

  • Assign the patient to diagnosis-related groups (DRGs), using appropriate computer software.

  • Process patient admission or discharge documents.

  • Transcribe medical reports.

  • Resolve or clarify codes or diagnoses with conflicting, missing or unclear information by consulting with doctors or others or by participating in the coding team’s regular meetings.

  • Enter data, such as demographic characteristics, history and extent of disease, diagnostic procedures or treatment into computer.

  • Identify, compile, abstract and code patient data, using standard classification systems.

  • Release information to persons or agencies according to regulations.

Skills and Abilities Needed to Perform Job:

  • Knowledge of a variety of software used in the healthcare industry, that includes: analytical or scientific; calendar and scheduling; categorization or classification, data base report; data base user interface and query; and document management.

  • Knowledge of medical software – Epic, HCPCS and MEDITECH.

  • Knowledge of OCR or scanning software and voice recognition software.

  • Knowledge of medical charting systems components or accessories.

  • Knowledge administrative and clerical procedures and systems; computers and electronics; laws and government codes, court procedures, precedents, regulations, orders, etc.; and the democratic political process.

  • Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases and deformities.

  • Reading Comprehension – Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

  • Active Listening – Giving full attention to what others are saying and able to understand the points being made.

  • Critical Thinking – using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions.

  • Writing and Speaking– Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

  • Judgement and Decision Making – Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

  • Monitoring – Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Desired Work Style Attributes:

  • Attention to details

  • Cooperation – Pleasant with others

  • Dependability – Reliable and responsible

  • Integrity – Honest and ethical

  • Independence – Guiding oneself with little or no supervision

  • Initiative – Willingness to assume responsibilities and challenges

  • Adaptability/Flexibility – Open to change

  • Self-Control – Maintaining composure in very difficult situations

  • Analytical Thinking – Use logic to address work-related issues and problems

Education Requirements:

There are health information careers available for people with degrees at all levels. To begin, graduate from high school with a good overall foundation of English, math and science. It would also be helpful if you take courses in computer science, economics and health studies.

Most people who enter this field receive an associate degree in health information management programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM)an indicator of program quality in both health information management and health informatics.

You will have a choice of levels. Health information management courses at the associates level are often called Health Information Technology while those at the bachelor's level may go by a variety of names including medical informatics. A combined health information/health informatics program may qualify you for additional certifications.

Employers prefer that you are certified. You can become a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT). The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers this option and you will need an associate degree to qualify. You must also pass an exam. You can also get certified as a Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) as well. You will need a bachelor's degree in health administration to quality.

The AHIMA offers an option for medial coders as well. You can enter his field if you take a one-year medical coding certificate program. Schools that offer this program may offer an associate degree too and you may be able to use credits earned in the coding program for the degree.

Advancement Opportunities

If you want a specialized position, you will want to take your education to the bachelors or masters level. These degrees will give you an edge when you apply for jobs and lead to a higher salary. To become a manager, you often need a master’s degree. A specialist or senior manager may focus on coding or manage data on cancer patients. Techs with a lot of experience can advance to become a supervisor of a section coding, correspondence or discharge section.

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