If you like the idea of working with computers but also have a passion for healthcare, you may be interested in a health information management (HIM) career. What do these careers look like and what qualifications do they require? We’ll answer both of these questions, and more.
What Is a HIM Career (And What Is It Like)?
Health information management professionals help healthcare agencies with the storage, organization, and management of their patient's private health information. This data includes the patient’s medical history, diagnoses, testing procedures, and treatment protocols.
Working in a HIM position often requires the use of digital recordkeeping systems such as electronic health records (EHRs) and electronic medical records (EMRs). This is also sometimes referred to as health information technology or HIT.
Depending on your specific job duties, you may be asked to review patient records for accuracy and completeness, enter the proper diagnostic and treatment codes based on standard coding classification systems, track patient data, and prepare reports. HIM professionals may also be tasked with ensuring that patient data is secure within the organization’s digital health record storage system.
Top Careers in Health Information Management
The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) shares that one of the top-growing HIM roles is Health Information Technician. This healthcare professional helps health organizations store, manage, and track patient data so it is both secure and accessible. They also ensure that the information is accurate, both for seeking reimbursement from the patient’s health insurance provider and also for its inclusion in larger databases designed to better understand health on a more global scale.
Medical and Health Services Manager is another rising health information management role according to the HIMSS. Working in this type of higher-level position entails verifying that a healthcare organization’s records are compliant with legal regulations and laws. It also requires ensuring that the necessary information collection, storage, and security standards are met.
A third health information position that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) cites as being “in high demand” is Cancer Registrar4. The National Cancer Registrars Association explains that a Cancer Registrar collects data on cancer patients. This information is then used to help researchers and healthcare providers identify trends and/or develop more effective prevention or treatment options.
Health Information Management Career Path
The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) separates health information management careers into four basic categories:
- Information Governance
- Data Analytics
- Coding and Revenue Cycle
Each one has a variety of potential career paths. For example, if you are interested in information governance, you might start in a Patient Registrar position, then advance to a Health Information Technician role. From Health Information Technician, you might decide to become a Reimbursement and Insurance Manager, which could then prepare you for a Director of Coding position.
Or maybe you take a different career path after working as a Health Information Technician and transfer into a Clinical Informatics Coordinator role. From there, you could potentially move to Director of Clinical Informatics or Informatics Researcher. Some of these position advancements may require additional education and experience, but there are countless health information management career path options depending on which ones interest you most.
Job Outlook for Health Information Management Careers
Healthcare occupations, in general, are projected to increase by around 15% from 2019 to 20297. The BLS adds that medical records and health information specialist positions specifically are expected to grow 8% during this same time frame8, which is a rate that is “much faster than average.” This equates to roughly 29,000 new job openings in HIM roles.
Is Health Information Management a Good Career Choice?
Whether working in a HIM position is a good career choice for you depends on your interests, what types of job functions you enjoy performing, and your ultimate career goals. If you want to work in healthcare but want a more behind-the-scenes position, for instance, you may enjoy health information management. You might also enjoy it if you like working with computers and data.
Qualities that are helpful when working in a HIM position include being analytical, having a strong attention to detail, and good interpersonal skills when communicating with others9. So, if you have these types of qualities naturally, you may find that you would like working in the health information management field.
How To Begin A Career In HIM
If a health information management career sounds appealing to you, you may be wondering what steps you need to take. Securing an entry-level HIM position may only require that you have a high school diploma or GED, or the employer may request that only individuals with an associate degree or higher apply. This qualification is set by individual healthcare organizations, so it’s helpful to contact the employer you’d like to work for and ask about its requirements.
Some healthcare agencies also require their employees to hold certain certifications when working in health information management career roles. Examples include Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT), Certified Electronic Health Records Specialist (CEHRS), and Certified Coding Associate (CCA).
Is a Health Information Management Degree Worth It?
Though a diploma or degree is not always required to obtain an entry-level position in health information management, if you want to advance to a higher-level position at a later point in time—following any one of the numerous health information management career paths—it may become necessary to complete this type of educational program.
Taking a course early in your career can help provide the education and skills you need to advance once you’re ready. Plus, associate degree workers could possibly earn an average of $141 more each week than workers who only finished high school10.
If you’re ready to begin your healthcare career, Ultimate Medical Academy offers a Health Information Management Associate Degree. This program can be completed in 18 months6 and includes a 90-hour practicum, offering students experience in an actual healthcare setting. Contact us today to learn more!
- What skills do you need for a career in HIM? Computer and coding skills are important in health information management career roles. So too are “soft skills” such as paying attention to detail, thinking analytically, and the ability to work well with others within a healthcare setting.
- What does a healthcare information manager do? Basic HIM duties involve storing, managing, organizing, and tracking patients’ private health information. Though, exact job duties are dictated by individual employers.
- What kind of jobs can you get with a health information management degree? A degree in HIM prepares you for entry-level roles such as Health Information Technician, Medical Records Tech, Medical Records Analyst or Coordinator, Medical Billing Specialist, and Medical Coder.
- What degree do you need to be a health information manager? Some employers require their HIM professionals to only have a high school diploma (or equivalent), while others request that applicants have a diploma or degree. If you wish to move into a management position, an associate or bachelor’s degree is often required.