As more healthcare providers shift to electronic healthcare records systems, the job of medical records and health information technician has become both more complex and more important to healthcare businesses. Those with the training and ability to oversee and operate healthcare records systems are expected to be in demand, although the type of training employers are looking for may become more stringent for some.
An aging population is leading to an explosion in the number of jobs in the healthcare industry, and the field of medical records and health information management is one of the fastest growing. People in this field can work in any healthcare facility requiring the creation and maintaining of patient records. They are typically charged with duties that require them to be proficient with medical coding and billing.
Although duties vary, a person working as a medical records and health information technician can expect to handle the following types of jobs:
• Creating and maintaining patient records, ensuring they are complete, timely and accurate.
• Maintaining patient information for use in databases and registries.
• Using classification codes to work with insurance companies for reimbursement purposes.
• Tracking patient records to assess the quality of their care.
• Helping ensure patient health information is secure.
An aging Baby Boomer population – one expected to live longer than previous generations – is one of the major factors contributing to healthcare being one of the fastest-growing industries during this decade. This will translate into more jobs maintaining medical records, as more people requiring medical care will mean more tests, treatments and procedures for patients.
The number of people working as medical records and health information technicians will increase 21% by 2020, faster than the average of all occupations nationwide, according to projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
As of 2010, the median annual salary for medical equipment preparers was $32,350, according to the BLS.
In most case, those entering the profession of maintaining medical and health records require at least certification or an associate’s degree. Most 2-year allied health degree programs for medical records and health information technology teach how to handle medical coding and medical billing and include coursework in medical terminology, federal health data requirements, classification and coding systems and reimbursement methods.
As with most professions, obtaining additional certifications and degrees can lead to more challenging and higher-paying jobs. In the area of medical records and health information technicians, some employers prefer those with professional certification. When choosing a school, it’s recommended to make sure the program is accredited to provide certification. Among the certifications for those working with medical billing and coding are Registered Health Information Technician and Certified Tumor Registrar.