Who unites caring doctors and modern technology to help you live longer?
The health information manager. Health information professionals are highly-skilled to meet the challenges of a growing industry.
They keep our private information secure. They process data that improve healthcare quality. They help insurance companies make accurate payments.
Health information technology jobs are plentiful. They’re also poised to grow over the next ten years.
We’ll talk more about health information management jobs soon. But first, let’s take a closer look at this industry segment.
Introduction to Health Information Management
Forms you fill out, your doctor’s notes and all your test results are health information.
In the past, handwritten records went into a file folder in your doctor’s office. Now, electronic health records store information from every doctor and specialist you’ve visited.
Health information management involves obtaining, analyzing and securing all forms of health information. The ultimate goal is to provide quality care combining business, science, and technology.
The health information management field consists of four areas:
Coding and Revenue
This area includes accurate coding of medical bills and submission to insurance companies. The second component is revenue collection from insurance, other third parties, and patients.
This cohort consists of patient information acquisition and creation of electronic health records. Included in this area is data security compliance.
This is the merging of information technology and healthcare documentation. It involves building, implementing, and maintaining health information systems.
This area looks at data to draw conclusions. It involves management of data standards, trend analysis, and statistical reporting.
Opportunities exist in all four areas for trained and skilled professionals.
Let’s have a look at health information management careers.
Health Information Manager: Career Overview
Health information managers mostly work in hospitals, diagnostic centers, and doctors’ offices. Others work for universities and research institutes.
Some are entry level coders. Others, information security managers. Leading entire departments are Vice Presidents of Data Management and Analytics.
Health information managers’ responsibilities vary by career path. But what they have in common is a commitment to quality patient care.
Specific duties include:
- Design, implementation, and maintenance of health information systems
- Implementation of systems and processes to ensure proper medical documentation
- Training of physicians and coding staff to promote accurate coding
- Ensuring compliance with federal and state privacy and security laws
- Analyzing regulatory audits and insurance denials to track trends and identify improvement areas
Entry-level health information managers collect and release data. Some also have coding and billing responsibilities.
At management and director levels, they shape an organization’s health information management’s policies.
Working in health information management requires an understanding of the following areas:
- information technology
Most entry-level positions require an Associates Degree. An Associate of Applied Science, specializing in Health Sciences, provides all the basics.
Look for programs approved by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education. Many employers also want candidates with the Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) credential.
The best degree for mid-level roles is a bachelor’s in Health Information Management. A bachelor’s in Healthcare Informatics is also a good alternative.
Other certifications and continuing education credits are essential to advancing in your career.
Education is a great start towards employment in this growing industry. It’s also important to nurture the following skills in your work experience.
Technology skills are a must if you’re designing or maintaining health information systems. Experience with networks, information security, and hardware are essential prerequisites.
Health information managers work with doctors, administrators, and vendors every day. Solid written and verbal communications skills are a must. As you progress in your career, developing negotiation skills also become a priority.
Problem-solving is the greatest skill a health information manager possesses. Thinking through issues from beginning to end is necessary to produce results.
Management and Leadership
Health information managers manage systems, processes, and budgets. But they also hire, train and develop associates. This makes management and leadership skills a must have.
Once you receive an Associates degree, there’s one more step. Pass the exam to earn the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) credential.
Entry level positions exist in Coding and Information Governance. Look for job titles like Billing Specialist and Medical Credentialing Specialist.
With a Bachelor’s degree, sit for the RHIA certification. This allows those with technical backgrounds to move into Informatics.
Positions in this area include Clinical Informatics Coordinator. You can also advance into more administrative roles in Information Governance or Coding.
With a Master’s and RHIA certification, other management and director-level positions are options. Examples are Director of Risk Management and Vice President of Data Management and Analytics.
This segment of the healthcare industry is experiencing rapid, sustained growth. As people age, their need for care increases. Advancing technology and consistent enforcement of HIPAA guidelines play a role too.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says health information technician employment may grow 13% between 2016 and 2026. Job prospects are best for those with the RHIT certification.
In the IT areas of health information management, job growth should be higher. Information Security Analyst jobs, for example, should grow 28% during the same period.
The BLS also predicts 6% growth for executive positions between 2014-2024. An example is Chief Compliance Officers.
Become the Best Candidate
The best Health Information Manager candidates are well-rounded. They combine education from accredited institutions with industry certifications and real-world experience.
Information technology is vital in health information management. It’s critical your degree program has a solid IT focus.
A B.A. in Health Information Management is a great option. Make sure any degree program you choose leads to sitting for the RHIA exam.
Real world experience comes from entry-level positions or through an internship. Some positions, like Medical Biller, hire candidates out of high school.
Candidates can also work in freelance medical coding while pursuing a degree.
The best time to start on your degree is now. Find a degree program that meets your needs and don’t look back.