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 healthcare information systems.
Health information technicians organize, analyze and manage this health information. They ensure its quality, accuracy, accessibility and security and ensure appropriate disclosure of information in both paper and electronic systems. Technicians use various vocabularies and classification systems to analyze, code and categorize patient information for quality reporting and support clinical and business decision making at both the individual and population levels as well as for insurance reimbursement purposes, databases and registries. In addition, the health information technician is also involved in information technology and data management activities that include, but are not limited to, maintaining patients’ medical record and treatment information.
Medical and health services managers, also called healthcare executives or healthcare administrators, plan, direct and coordinate medical and health services. They might manage an entire facility; specialize in managing a specific clinical, ancillary or administrative area or department; or manage a medical practice for a group of physicians. Medical and health services managers must be able to adapt to changes in healthcare service delivery models, payment, laws, regulations and technology.
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
Health information managers typically earn a salary of $32,000 to $84,000 per year with increases commensurate with higher education and experience.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected a 21% growth in the number of health information management workers between 2010 and 2020, making it one of the nation’s fastest-growing health occupations. Nearly 75% of respondents to a 2002 study reported that there are not enough qualified applicants to fill open positions in their organizations.
Health information management (HIM) graduates entering the field graduate from associate degree programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) in community or junior colleges or CAHIIM-accredited baccalaureate degree programs in a college or university. Some go on to earn a master’s degree in health information management or health informatics. The HIM Career Map depicts numerous HIM-related roles and provides detailed information on educational requirements, salary statistics and other supporting information.
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.
Applicants can improve their chances of admission into a program by taking courses in biology, medical terminology, anatomy, physiology, college math, statistics and computer science. Students interested in professional certifications from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) should check the CAHIIM accreditation status of the program for eligibility.
After graduating, many health information management professionals choose to earn the entry-level Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) and Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) credentials 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