Spotlight on Health Information Technicians

The healthcare industry is booming, increasing demand for those trained in handling the masses of data required to provide quality care to patients. According to the U.S. Census projections, the over 65 age group is expected to grow by almost 30% over the next 30 years, and medical resources will expand to meet the needs of this aging population.

Along with increased use of medical services, ongoing changes to government regulations mean the amount of information collecting by healthcare organizations will also grow. Medications, symptoms, test results, scans, insurance claims and much more need to be recorded for the millions of people who use the health system.

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More information means more demand for people with the skills to collect, compile, organize, and maintain this data. Advances in information technology has also fuelled the need for individuals with the appropriate technical skills to handle electronic data and the security issues it presents.

Health Information Specialists and Technicians have a unique combination of medical knowledge, IT skills and superior organizational ability to ensure all patient records are: accurate; filed and coded to the industry requirements; maintained for easy access; and, analyzed for patient and market trends. To take on these roles you will need to enjoy working with strict systems and a variety of different people: registered nurses, healthcare professionals, medical secretaries, accounts and administration staff.

Employment Statistics

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over 200,000 Health Information Technicians in the U.S. with over 17,000 in Texas. The Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX Metropolitan Division is ranked seventh in the country in terms of employment numbers, with 3,000 people holding these positions. Demand for health information technicians is experiencing faster growth, on average, than other occupations and there are expected to be almost 30,000 new positions by 2024, representing an increase of 15%.

With the amount of data required to maintain quality healthcare tipped to increase further with the impact of changing health insurance legislation and the uptake of electronic health records across the healthcare industry, there is a need for experienced information technicians to manage, organize, and maintain complex data recording systems.

Technical Skills

Certifications will prove the difference for those interested in Health Information Technician roles, with four key technical skills required in these positions.

1. Electronic Records Management

Everything is digital these days, and when it comes to health records there are significant advantages to being able to search and access up-to-date information that can aid the clinical care of patients. This is the primary concern of a Health Information Technician.  To meet the challenges of maintaining this type of information, it is essential that you undertake education that qualifies you to undertake certification exams in electronic health records.

2. Billing and Coding

Each treatment and process in a health setting has a related numerical code which is used to report on patient records and to bill customers and insurance providers.  Certification in billing and coding practices are essential for Health Information positions to ensure all health records are maintained to industry and organizational standards.

3.  Medical Terminology

It’s not just important to be able to collect and store data, you also need to understand it. In healthcare, specialized terminology can make this difficult. To take on a Health Information role you will need to undertake training in medical terminology so you can be sure of the accuracy of the data you manage.

4. Medical Law & Ethics

Knowledge of relevant medical law and ethics is essential, as those dealing with health information need to ensure their work follows all mandatory guidelines and industry standards. Confidentiality has long been a given for any healthcare work, but its importance has increased with technological innovation.

Health data security has been in the news a lot recently, and Health Information Specialists need to take measures to protect confidential patient information. This is especially necessary considering the significant risk of data theft. Keep an eye out for courses that qualify you to undertake the HIPAA Privacy exam to ensure you have the appropriate certification.

Employment Opportunities

The big employers of Health Information Technicians are hospitals, with almost 70,000  employed. Physicians offices employ almost 40,000, but jobs are available in all organizations that collect a large amount of medical information. While they don’t hire Health Information Technicians in great numbers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, insurance brokers, and other professional, scientific and technical services, tend to offer the best-paid positions. If this position sounds like one for you, keep an eye out for these job titles, or a mixture thereof:

  • Medical Records Clerk
  • Cancer Registrar
  • Registered Health Information Technician
  • Certified Tumor Registrar
  • Medical Records Analyst
  • Medical Records Coordinator

For more information on how to get the skills you need to take on a Health Information career, visit CCI Training and fill out the form for more information.