Health Information Technology Degree: The Record Keepers of Our Health

As the healthcare industry increases in size, there will be a greater need for health information technology (HIT) professionals. The field of health information technology deals with the storage, retrieval, and optimal use of health information and data for record keeping and decision-making. A health information technology degree equips you with the knowledge and technical skills required to help maintain health information records. Unlike other jobs in the healthcare field, health information technology requires computer proficiency rather than the ability to provide direct, hands-on patient care. If you want to perform computer-related work with medical records, explore health information technology schools now.

Admissions Requirements for Health Information Technology Schools

Degree Types

Health information technology degrees are typically offered at the associate’s level. There are also health information management degrees offered at the bachelor’s and master’s level, which provide a more in-depth look at the administrative side of health information.

Degree Career Paths

An associate’s degree is generally required for entry-level positions in health information technology, such as those as a medical records and health information technician. However, positions as a health information manager will often require a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

Undergraduate Requirements

The admissions requirements for associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs in health information technology or management are usually a high school diploma or GED, a minimum required GPA, and minimum required SAT/ACT scores. Associate’s degrees require two years of study, and bachelor’s degrees can be completed in four years.

Graduate Requirements

The entrance requirements for a master’s degree program in health information management are usually a bachelor’s degree, a minimum required GPA, minimum required GRE scores, and letters of recommendation. Master’s degrees are two years beyond the bachelor’s degree.

Curriculum of Health Information Technology Programs

Overview

Healthcare facilities have a tremendous volume of patient and institutional information to manage. Students taking health information technology courses may learn how to use coding and classification software, analyze and interpret data, and demonstrate integrity in protecting patient confidentiality.

Health Information Technology Courses

Subjects that students may be required to study include the following:

  • Medical coding
  • Medical terminology
  • Health information automation
  • Anatomy & physiology
  • Health information systems
  • Pharmacology
  • Software applications for healthcare professionals
  • Heath information quality assurance
  • Health statistics & data analysis
  • Health informatics infrastructure

Certification

Although voluntary, most employers prefer to hire candidates who have earned professional certification. A popular certification for health information technicians is the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) credential. For aspiring healthcare information managers, the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management offers certification in health information management. Credentials will typically require differing levels of education and work experience, as well as a certifying exam.

Health Information Technology Careers

Duties

While protecting patients’ confidentiality, health information technicians review records of patients data for accuracy, assign clinical codes for reimbursement, and electronically record data for analysis and storage, among other duties. Health information managers are responsible for the overall maintenance and security of patient records. They supervise health information technicians, improve efficiency, keep organized records, and stay-up to date on laws and regulations.

Work Environment

Health information technicians and managers work at hospitals, ambulatory care facilities, nursing homes, physicians’ officers, group medical practices, and government agencies. They are typically employed full-time and work in office environments in front of the computer. Some individuals may have to work during the evenings or on weekends if they are employed by a facility that is open twenty-four hours.

Employment and Salary

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the employment for health information technicians should increase by 22% from 2012 to 2022, which is a rate that is much faster than average. Jobs for health service managers should also grow at a faster than average rate of 23%. The growth in these fields can primarily be attributed to the aging baby boomer population, which is expected to require healthcare services in the coming decade. In 2013, the median annual wage for medical and health information technicians was $34,970. Medical and health service managers, as a whole, earned $90,940.

Join this In-Demand Field

The US Department of Health and Human Services and the Bureau of Labor Statistics predict that there will be a shortage of about 50,000 healthcare IT workers in the next several years. Health information technology is critical to the delivery of information to healthcare professionals so that they can provide appropriate care. Obtain the technical expertise and skills needed to succeed in this high-demand field by pursuing a health information technology degree today.

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