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Considering Work as a Medical Records and Health Information Technicians

Significant Points

Employment of medical records and health information technicians is anticipated to grow by 20 percent, much quicker than the average for all occupations through 2018. Employment advancement will result from the rise in the number of medical tests, treatments, and procedures that will be accomplished. The continuous maturity of population increases the development of health-related problems. It is expected for cancer registrars to experience job increase as the occurrence of cancer swells form a maturing population.

Furthermore, with the broadening utilization of electronic health records, more technicians will be required to accomplish the new responsibilities related with electronic data management.

Job prospects should be very good. Apart from job growth, multifold vacancies will arise from the demand to make up for medical record and health information technicians who retire or leave the occupation for good. Technicians that show a distinct grasp of technology and computer software will be in clearly high demand.

Nature of Work

Medical records and health information technicians compile patients' health information including medical history, symptoms, examination results, diagnostic tests, treatment methods, and all other healthcare provider services. Technicians systematize and administer health information data by assuring its quality, accuracy, accessibility, and security. They religiously associate with physicians and other healthcare professionals to throw light on diagnoses or to get further information.

The growing utilization of electronic health records (EHR) will persist to expand and change the job responsibilities of health information technicians. For example, with the utilization of EHRs, technicians must be abreast with EHR computer software, maintaining EHR security, and analyzing electronic data to enhance healthcare information. Health information technicians utilize EHR software to preserve data on patient safety, patterns of disease, and disease treatment and outcome. Technicians also may help with augmenting EHR software application and may add to the advancement and support of health information networks.

Medical records and health information technicians' responsibilities differ with the size of the facility they work in. Technicians can practice exclusively in many facets of health information.

A number of medical records and health information technicians practice exclusively in systematizing patients' medical data for reimbursement purposes. Technicians who pursue in coding are known as medical coders or coding specialists. Medical coders put a code to each diagnosis and procedure by applying classification systems software. The classification system figures the total for which healthcare providers will be repaid if the patient is secured by Medicare, Medicaid, or other insurance programs utilizing the system. Coders may utilize a number of coding systems, such as those recommended for ambulatory settings, physician offices, or long-term care.

Cancer registry is another specialization Medical records and health information technicians can pursue. As Cancer (or tumor) registrars they manage facility, regional, and national databases of patients with cancer. Registrars go over patient records and pathology reports, and put codes for the diagnosis and treatment of various cancers and chosen benign tumors. Yearly follow-ups to track treatment, survival, and recovery are conducted by registrars. This information is utilized to estimate survivor rates and success rates of different types of treatment, to pin point geographic areas with high occurrences of particular cancers, and to determine likely participants for clinical drug tests.

The work environment of medical records and health information technicians are quite pleasant and comfortable. This is one of the few health-related jobs in which there is no direct hands-on patient care, they work in offices.

Medical records and health information technicians generally work an average 40-hour week. Some overtime may be demanded. Technicians may work day, evening, and night shifts in health facilities that are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In 2008, nearly 14 percent of technicians worked part-time.

Education and Training, Qualifications, and Advancement

Education and training. Medical records and health information technicians usually hold an associate degree. Usual coursework in health information technology covers medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, health data requirements and standards, clinical classification and coding systems, data analysis, healthcare reimbursement methods, database security and management, and quality improvement methods. Candidates can boost their chances of acceptance into a post-secondary program by taking up health, biology, chemistry, math, and computer science courses in high school.

Certification and other qualifications. Majority of employers favor to employ credentialed medical record and health information technicians. Some organizations offer credentials usually based on qualifying a credentialing exam. Most credentialing programs demand regular recertification and constant education to retain the credential. A lot of coding credentials demand an a quantity of time in coding experience in the work setting.

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) provides credentialing as a Registered Health Information Technicians (RHIT). To get the RHIT credential, an individual needs to graduate from a 2-year associate degree program officially recognized by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) and succeed an AHIMA-administered written test. There were more than 200 CAHIIM-certified health information technology colleges and universities programs in 2008.

Coding credentials are being offered by the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC). Both the Board of Medical Specialty Coding (BMSC) and Professional Association of Health care Coding Specialists (PAHCS) offer credentialing in specialty coding. The National Cancer Registrars Association (NCRA) offers a credential as a Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR).

Health information technicians and coders should have good oral and written communication skills as they frequently assist as liaisons between healthcare facilities, insurance companies, and other establishments. Aspirants skilled with computer software and technology will be enticing to employers as healthcare facilities carry on to adopt electronic health records. Medical records and health information technicians should enjoy learning, as constant education is crucial in the job.

Advancement. Veteran medical records and health information technicians frequently advance their careers by acquiring a bachelor’s or master’s degree or by pursuing an advanced specialty certification. Technicians with a bachelor’s or master’s degree can move up and become a health information manager. An advanced specialty certification can also be acquired by Technicians. Advanced specialty certification is usually experience-based, however may need additional formal education subject to the certifying organization.

Medical Records and Health Information Technicians Pay Rate

The medical records and health information technicians’ average annual wage was $30,610 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent acquired between $24,290 and $39,490. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $20,440, and the highest 10 percent earned in excess of $50,060. Average annual wages in the industries hiring the largest numbers of medical records and health information technicians in May 2008 were:

Federal Executive Branch $42,760

General medical and surgical hospitals $32,600

Nursing care facilities                                                          $30,660

Outpatient care centers                                                       $29,160

Offices of physicians                                                           $26,210

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