A health information technician helps healthcare facilities and organizations manage, organize, store, and protect patients’ private health information. If this sounds like an appealing job to you, one option is to take it a step further and become a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT).
What Is an RHIT (Registered Health Information Technician)?
A Registered Health Information Technician is a health information specialist who has taken and passed the RHIT exam. This exam is administered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and assesses the candidate’s knowledge in areas related to health information management, such as data analytics, revenue cycle management, and data security. Eligibility requirements must be met in order to sit for the exam.
RHIT Job Description & Duties
Duties performed by an RHIT can vary from one employer to the next. However, health information management positions, in general, typically involve15:
- Inputting patient information into the organization’s digital record-keeping system
- Reviewing patient records to ensure that they are correct and complete
- Using classification codes to record patients’ diagnoses, medical tests, and treatments
- Protecting patient confidentiality, in part, by following safe digital security practices
Some healthcare facilities may require RHITs to perform additional duties. These are sometimes listed in the job description. Other times, they may not be discussed until you are further into the hiring process.
Job Options for an RHIT
As an RHIT, you can work in a hospital or non-hospital setting. Insurance companies and health technology companies also sometimes employ registered health information technicians. Job titles for these types of positions include health information management (HIM) technician, medical records technician, and data analyst.
As of May 2020, the median pay for individuals working in health information management was $46,880 per year when working within hospitals and $44,090 when providing services in a non-hospital setting22. Though, your actual salary can vary based on your years of experience, your educational level, and several other factors.
RHIT vs RHIA: What’s the Difference?
Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) is sometimes confused with Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA). However, the two are actually different, on numerous levels.
For example, one area of difference is in the types of duties performed. While an RHIT helps input, organize, store, analyze, and protect patient information, an RHIA is more of a management role. In addition to RHIT duties, RHIAs are also often tasked with managing people or departments, preparing budgets, and making decisions about the organization’s digital record-keeping processes and systems23.
Another difference is the level of education required to test for the certification exam. You only need an associate degree to test for the RHIT designation while a bachelor’s degree or higher is required if you want to become an RHIA.
How to Become an RHIT
Working in health information management (HIM) as an RHIT involves first understanding what is required to earn this designation.
To sit for the RHIT exam, the AHIMA states that candidates must first obtain an associate-level degree from a HIM program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM).
As an example, the Health Information Management Associate of Science program at Ultimate Medical Academy is programmatically accredited by CAHIIM. This accreditation signifies that a program has voluntarily undergone a rigorous review process and has been determined to meet or exceed the standards set by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).
Students graduating from a foreign HIM program can also sit for the RHIT exam as long as their program has reciprocity with AHIMA.
Qualities Helpful for Health Technicians
There are a few qualities that are helpful if you want to become an RHIT. Among them are being analytical, having strong attention to detail, acting ethically and with integrity, and having good interpersonal skills when communicating with others within the healthcare field7.
RHIT Certification (What Is an RHIT Certification?)
RHIT certification is provided by AHIMA and tests the candidate’s competency in six different areas24:
- Data content, structure, and information governance
- Access, disclosure, privacy, and security
- Data analytics and use
- Revenue cycle management
To earn RHIT credentials, candidates must earn a 300 or higher on the RHIT exam. This computer-based exam has between 130 and 160 questions and must be completed within 3.5 hours. It is scheduled and administered by Pearson VUE.
How to Register for the RHIT
Candidates must submit an application to take the RHIT exam. Reading the Candidate Guide beforehand helps gain a better understanding of the value of RHIT certification as well as the steps required to apply to sit for the test. This guide also tells you what to expect on the day of the exam as well as what to expect after the exam is complete, such as how the scores are validated and how you will receive your results.
RHIT Exam Prep
Before taking your RHIT exam, it may be helpful to download AHIMA’s exam content outline. This outline breaks down each of the six areas tested, giving more specific examples of the type of information candidates must know to pass each one.
For example, questions relating to data analytics and use will cover areas of knowledge such as data abstraction and analysis, privacy and security audits, reporting data, healthcare statistics and report compilation, and healthcare statistics analysis25. UMA students also have access to mock RHIT tests.
RHIT Online Certification Programs
There are some online health information management programs that help you prepare to sit for your RHIT exam. UMA’s Health Information Management Associate Degree is one. This online program takes 18 months to complete and includes courses in healthcare policies, coding, statistics, and healthcare reimbursement.
What sets UMA’s Health Information Management Associate Degree apart from some of the other programs is that anatomy and physiology and coding are taught in 10 weeks versus 5 weeks, allowing for greater detail to be provided. This program also includes instruction in cybersecurity with an increased focus on statistics and data analysis. Not to mention that RHIT certification prep is included in the course content.
Contact UMA today to learn whether this program is right for you or for information about how to get started!
- What does a registered health information technician do? A registered health information technician (RHIT) helps healthcare organizations and facilities input, manage, organize, store, and protect patients’ private health information.
- How do I get RHIA or RHIT certified? Both RHIA and RHIT certifications are obtained through the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). To apply to sit for the RHIA or RHIT exam, you must meet the AHIMA’s minimum requirements. Certification is provided once you earn a passing score on the exam.
- How much does an RHIT make an hour? As of May 2020, the median pay for individuals working in health information management was $46,880 per year when working within hospitals and $44,090 when providing services in a non-hospital setting22. This equates to roughly $21.20-$22.54 per hour. Though actual pay can vary based on years of experience, educational level, and more.
- How long does it take to become a health information technician? Some employers only require their health information techs to have a high school diploma, though most require a postsecondary certificate or education.4 To sit for the RHIT exam, you must have at least an associate degree. UMA’s Health Information Management Associate Degree program can be completed in 18 months9.