Every time health care personnel treat a patient, they record what they observed and how the patient was treated medically. This record includes information the patient provides concerning his or her symptoms and medical history, as well as the results of examinations, reports of X-rays and laboratory tests, diagnoses and treatment plans.
Increasingly, this information is maintained electronically in health care information systems. The practice of acquiring, analyzing and protecting digital and traditional medical information vital to providing quality patient care is known as health information management.
Health information management professionals are highly trained in the latest information management technology applications and understand the workflow in any health care provider organization from large hospital systems to private physician practices. They are vital to the daily operations management of health information and electronic health records. They ensure a patient’s health information and records are complete, accurate and protected.
Health information management professionals work in a variety of different settings and job titles. They often serve in bridge roles, connecting clinical, operational and administrative functions. These professionals affect the quality of patient information and patient care at every touchpoint in the health care delivery cycle. They work on the classification of diseases and treatments to ensure they are standardized for clinical, financial, and legal uses in health care. Health information management professionals care for patients by caring for their medical data.
Health information management professionals usually work a 40-hour week, although some overtime may be required. Options for home-based work or evening and night shift schedules may be available in hospitals. Other work environments include pharmaceutical firms, insurance companies, long-term care facilities, public health settings, physician group practices, consulting firms, computer systems design firms and many more settings.
Salary Range and Outlook
The salaries of health information management professions will vary according to education and experience. The American Health Information Management Association reports that new health information graduates with associate degrees earn $20,000 to $30,000 annually while those with bachelor’s degrees earn between $30,000 and $50,000. With a few years of experience, managers can earn $50,000 to $75,000 annually.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected a 15% growth in the number of health information management workers between 2014 and 2024, much faster than the average for all health occupations.
Health information management (HIM) professionals may begin their careers with an associate or bachelor’s degree. If you are considering this career, make sure to choose a program that has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education.
In addition to a general education, coursework includes biomedical sciences, legal aspects of health information, coding and management of clinical data, statistics, data analysis, database management, quality improvement methods and computer technology applied to health information systems.
Once you have a bachelor’s degree, you may decide to go on to earn a master’s degree in health information management or health informatics. A number of educational programs now offer master’s degrees in health information management or health informatics. It is anticipated that the health care system will become more complex and that graduate education will be increasingly required to fill the roles of the future.
The HIM Career Map depicts numerous HIM-related roles and provides detailed information on educational requirements, salary statistics and other supporting information.
After graduating, many health information management professionals choose to earn their credentials as either a registered health information technician or a registered health information administrator by successfully completing a national certification exam. Additional certifications are available and may be based on a combination of education and experience.
Learn More About a Career as a Health Information Manager
Take a look at Health Information 101 on the American Health Information Management Association’s website, which includes information on what health information is, the benefits of a career in health information and video profiles of health information professionals.
- American Health Information Management Association
- Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education