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Health Information Technician

Job Duties

Health information technicians organize the medical records and other health information of healthcare patients. Every time a person receives healthcare, a record is generated. This record may include information about symptoms, medical history, x rays, laboratory tests, diagnoses, and treatment plans. Technicians ensure the completeness of medical charts, communicate with physicians to clarify or augment the information, and assign codes to diagnoses and procedures using manuals and their knowledge of diseases. Using computer software, they assign patients to a "diagnosis-related group" (DRG), which is used to determine the amount hospitals are reimbursed under insurance programs. Some health information technicians specialize in this coding process.

Health information technicians analyze medical data to aid healthcare providers in such challenges as improving services, keeping costs down, and completing medical research. Their day-to-day activities depend largely on the size of the facility in which they work. In smaller facilities, credentialed health information technicians often manage an entire department. In larger facilities, technicians usually specialize or supervixe health information clerks and transcriptionists.

Job Skills

Health information technicians need to be able to pay very close attention to detail, as mistakes in their work can have drastic consequences. They should have good eyesight and manual dexterity. They also need to have well-developed interpersonal and communication skills because they often interact with many people during the course of a typical day.

Income

In 2002, health information technicians earned a median annual salary of $23,890. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $16,460, to the highest 10%, who earned more than $38,640. The following shows the median annual salaries in the industries employing the highest numbers of health information technicians:

  • Nursing care facilities -- $25,160
  • General medical and surgical hospitals -- $24,910
  • Outpatient care centers -- $22,380
  • Offices of physicians -- $21,320

Education and Training

The standard degree for entry-level health information technician positions is an associate degree from a community or junior college. These degree programs usually include courses in medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, legal issues, coding and abstraction of data, statistics, database management, quality improvement methods, and computer science. Some hospitals promote health information clerks to these positions if they have 2 to 4 years of experience and complete an on-the-job training program, although this is expected to become less common.

Technicians who have earned the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) designation have a great advantage when it comes to getting hired. In order to earn the designation, a person must graduate from one of the 182 accredited 2-year associate degree programs and pass a written examination. Health information technicians who gain experience can advance later in their careers to become specialists or managers. In larger facilities, experienced technicians may advance to section supervisor. In smaller facilities, they may advance to director or assistant director of a medical records and health information department.

Employment

In 2002, health information technicians held about 147,000 jobs. 37% worked in hospitals. The remainder worked mostly in offices of physicians, nursing car facilities, outpatient care centers, and home healthcare services.

Job Outlook

Between 2002 and 2012, employment of health information technicians is expected to increase much faster than the average. This growth will be the result of an increasing need on the part of regulators, courts, consumers, and third-party payers to examine and scrutinize medical records. The fastest employment growth will be in offices of physicians.

For more information on becoming a health information technician, please see our directory of schools offering Medical Training


Health Information Technician Training

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            AA - Healthcare Information Technology
            Fremont College traces its roots to Platt College’s founding in St. Joseph, Missouri, in 1879, and the Southern California branch campus was established in 1986. The most significant evolution of the College started when its third CEO, Dr. Sabrina Kay, assumed leadership in 2007. Fremont College became an innovative center adopting the framework of Work-Based Learning Leadership at the Wharton School and Dr. Kay’s thesis on improved learning through practice and collaboration.
            • Online Courses
            A.S. - Healthcare Information Technology
            • Offers special tuition pricing for Veterans, Active Duty Military and spouses/qualifying dependents of all Active Duty, National Guard and Reserves.
            • Works closely with an advisory board from the medical community to ensure that their curriculum, equipment and instruction are current.
            • Allows students to complete assignments on the go with its Blackboard Learn mobile app.
            • Gives online students live student support for technical or course questions.
            • Has campus locations in Florida as well as online learning programs.
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            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            B/S Health Information Management
            • Provides an exclusive Ashford Mobile app to keep students connected to the online classroom on the go.
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            • Offers several credit transfer and previous experience options for students who qualify.
            • Dedicated to fostering intellectual and personal growth since 1918.
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            Diagnostic Medical Sonography
            Platt College , Anaheim
            • A Los Angeles-based private college offering programs in medical sciences, legal studies, and graphic design since 1985.
            • Has weekend programs, including certified  veterinary technology, nurse assistant, and hemodialysis technician.
            • Showcases visual communication students’ artwork and design through campus magazine.
            • 3 campuses in Southern California.
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
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            • Accredited
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            X-Ray Technician/Back Office Medical Assistant

            About Brightwood College

            Brightwood College offers accelerated programs that combine flexible schedules and professional instruction to create a rewarding learning experience for individuals focused on gaining the skills for specific careers. Brightwood College is owned and operated by Education Corporation of America.

            About Education Corporation of America

            Education Corporation of America's institutions broaden access to postsecondary educational opportunities.

            Surgical Technology
            • Features the Success Education Program, with numerous scholarship opportunities to students who qualify.
            • Offers a paralegal program and several healthcare programs including pharmacy technology, medical assisting, massage therapy, and diagnostic medical sonography.
            • Provides an active Placement Assistance Program for all qualified gradutes.
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • 7 southern California campuses available in West Covina, Pomona, Pasadena, Glendale, Riverside, Santa Ana, and Long Beach.
            • Part of the Success Education Colleges (SEC) group.
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            Master of Health Informatics
            • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Lets undergrad students try classes before paying any tuition.
            • Has an average class sizes of 18 for undergraduate and 13 for graduate-level courses.
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            • Tends to educate degree-seeking online and campus-based students who are adult learners with families and students who work while pursuing higher education.
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            Specialization in Nursing Informatics (MSN)
            • Ranked among the Best Grad Schools for Physician Assistants in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Dedicated to delivering quality education and personalized attention to students since 1899.
            • Provides a range of campus experiences and services online including advising, tutoring, student community, and career services.
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