Medical Records and Health Information Technicians – Career Opportunities

Medical records and health information technicians handle and organize patient records, and evaluate these records for completeness and accuracy.

They may specialize in coding patients’ medical information for insurance purposes. They will tabulate and analyze data to improve patient care, control costs, provide documentation for use in legal actions and respond to surveys for use in research studies. They conduct annual follow-ups on all patients  Home health electronic documentation to track their treatment, survival, and recovery. They may supervise health information clerks and transcriptionists.

In 2004 there were about 159,000 technicians in the U.S. About 40% worked in hospitals. The rest were mostly in physician’s offices, nursing care facilities, outpatient care centers, and home health care services. Some worked in insurance firms that deal in health matters. In public health departments technicians supervise data collection.

Medical records and health information technicians usually have an associate degree from a community or junior college. Besides a general education, coursework should include medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, legal aspects of health information, coding and abstraction of data, statistics, database management, quality improvement methods and computer science.

Many job openings require Registered Health Information Technicians (RHIT). They pass a written exam from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). To take the exam, one must graduate from a 2-year associate degree program. This should be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). In 2005, there were 184 CAHIIM-accredited programs.