Health care in the USA is a huge industry. Every day, hospitals and doctors’ offices produce millions of pages of information about their patients. They need health information technicians to help them understand and store the data. Find out how to become a health information technician.
What is a health information technician?
Health care technicians read and file medical records. Medical records are important to people’s lives and health. Skilled people organize and manage this information. The name of this job is health information technician (HIT) or medical records technician.
About the job
What can you expect in the job of health information technician?
Duties of a health information technician
The main duty of a health information technician is to keep medical records safe, accurate, and up to date. Doctors, nurses, hospital managers, and health insurance companies all need correct information to be available to them. Most of these records are kept on computers. Some are on paper, and these papers may need to be scanned and filed.
HITs make sure that all other health workers (such as doctors, nurses and medical technicians) complete medical records. HITs must understand and use the codes used for different medical procedures.
Watch a video about the job of an HIT
Most HITs work in hospitals. They may also work in clinics and doctors’ offices. Some HITs work from home. HITs may also work for health insurance companies, for the government, or in medical research.
Salary for health information technicians
In 2017, the average pay for HITs was about $39,000 per year. But annual salary can be more than $70,000 for experienced workers in some big cities or as low as $25,000 for entry-level workers in rural areas.
About the person
What kind of person makes a good health information technician?
Qualities you should have
- attention to detail – HIT work is full of small details and must be accurate
- good ethics – medical records are confidential an
- ability to analyze information – HIT data includes complex medical information and regulations
Skills you will need
- computer skills
- understanding of medical terms
- understanding of legal procedures
- knowledge of health care costs and payments
- training in medical coding systems
What training, certification and experience do health information technicians need?
Training for health information technicians
The most common training is a course in Health Information Management. This course should be accredited (approved) by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). A CAHIIM- accredited course will give you an associate’s degree. The course usually takes two years. You can find an accredited course near you through the Cahim database.
On the CAHIIM database, select your state from the dropdown menu. De-select all programs except “Health Information Management : Associate Degree.” If you only want to study online, de-select “Campus Based.” Then choose “Search.”
If no programs come up in your state, try a neighboring state. There are 109 online courses on this database and many more campus-based courses.
Certification for health information technicians
There are several certifications for different types of HIT. Some are specifically for coding systems or for cancer records. The most general certification is the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) certification. To apply for RHIT, you need to complete a CAHIIM- accredited course.
Experience is important, too. For example, if you have worked as a receptionist in a doctor’s office, you will have learned to manage information. A medical clerk may have experience with medical codes. These previous jobs may help you become a health information technician without a college course. You will probably still need certification.