If you want a career in healthcare, health information management is one option to consider. It’s also an option if you’re currently working in the healthcare field and are interested in changing roles. Learn what health information management is, general job duties, job outlook, and more.
What is Health Information Management?
Health information management (HIM)—which is also sometimes referred to as health information technology (HIT)—involves the collection, organization, storage, and tracking of patient information. This can include inputting, updating, or retrieving patient information into various software systems, such as electronic health records or EHRs. Health information management also involves safeguarding patients’ private data within the recordkeeping systems used.
The Roles of HIM
The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) explains that health information management serves a few purposes. One is that it enables healthcare professionals to track a patient’s health status. This gives the healthcare provider the opportunity to better understand if the patient’s health may be improving, declining, or staying the same. This data can also be used to gain a big-picture view of population-wide health trends, as well as to better understand whether the use of certain medical treatments or interventions are effective.
Daily Roles and Responsibilities
Individuals working in a health information management role may be tasked with duties such as:
- Reviewing patient records to ensure that they are complete, accurate, and updated in a timely manner
- Updating and/or organizing health information stored within clinical databases
- Assigning the appropriate classification codes for a patient’s specific diagnoses, testing procedures, and treatments (this helps ensure that the patient’s medical team has access to accurate information and also that the correct information is submitted to the patient’s health insurance company for proper reimbursement)
- Protecting the confidentiality of patients, securing the privacy of their private health information
Your actual role and responsibilities may vary based on your employer and the type of facility in which you work.
How HIM Differs from Other Medical Careers
Some careers within the healthcare field involve direct patient contact. Doctors, nurses, and phlebotomists (healthcare professionals who collect blood from patients) are a few. In health information management, there is no hands-on patient care. You work with the patient’s health information versus working directly with the patient. That makes this career option different than some of the other medical careers.
Salary Potential and Job Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that, as of May 2020, the median annual wage for medical records and health information specialists was $44,090 per year1. This equates to roughly $21.20 per hour. Though, your actual pay can vary based on a variety of factors, some of which include level of experience, education, certifications, and the geographical area in which you work.
The BLS adds that jobs in this role are projected to increase 8% between 2019 and 20292. This could create an estimated 29,000 additional roles for individuals working within medical records or health information.
How to Know If a Career in Health Information Management is For You
AHIMA calls health information management “a combination of business, science, and information technology.” If these three subject areas interest you, you may enjoy a career in HIM.
Because health information management doesn’t involve direct patient care, it may also be preferred by people who want to work in the healthcare field but don’t want to provide one-on-one care to patients. It enables them to take an active role in the health system by helping to maintain patient records.
Some healthcare facilities, like hospitals, are open 24 hours a day. If you work at one of these facilities, you may have overnight or evening shifts as a health information specialist. This is something to keep in mind, as well as being something to ask about should you choose to apply for an HIM role.
Skills that Can Help You Succeed in HIM
Certain skills may help you be more successful in a health information management position3. These skills include being analytical, paying attention to detail, and an ability to maintain patient confidentiality. Interpersonal skills can also be helpful when discussing patient data and health information with other healthcare professionals and recordkeeping staff.
Earning Your Health Information Management Degree
If you are interested in working in this type of role, earning your degree can provide the knowledge and skills used in an entry-level position in health information management. For example, Ultimate Medical Academy (UMA) offers a Health Information Management Associate Degree. This 63.5-credit hour program includes classes such as:
- Introduction to Health Information and the Healthcare Record
- Healthcare Law, Policies, and Ethics
- International Classification of Diseases (ICD) Coding I and II
- Healthcare Reimbursement & the Revenue Cycle
- Health Information Leadership Roles, Theories, and Skills
Knowledge in each of these areas may be helpful should you decide to pursue a career in healthcare and are interested in working as a health information management technician.
What You Can Do with a Health Information Management Degree
With a degree in health information management, you can pursue entry-level roles such as:
- Health Information Technician
- Medical Records Technician
- Medical Records Analyst
- Medical Records Coordinator
- Medical Coder
- Medical Billing Specialist
These types of positions can be found at doctors’ offices, hospitals, insurance companies, health technology companies, and more.
Earning an associate degree prior to earning a bachelor's degree may help you get into the workforce sooner. It can also be the first step in your journey as you pursue a career in healthcare.
Contact UMA Today
If you want to learn more about UMA’s Health Information Management Associate Degree, contact us today. This program is offered online and includes the opportunity to participate in a 90-hour on-site practicum so you can apply your knowledge in an actual healthcare setting. It also introduces students to leadership skills that can assist with career progression and prepares them to sit for the RHIT (Registered Health Information Technician) exam.
- What jobs can you get with a health information management degree? With a degree in health information management, you can apply for entry-level positions such as health information technician, medical records technician, medical records analyst, and medical records coordinator just to name a few.
- What does a HIM specialist do? A HIM specialist helps collect, organize, store, and track patient information within a healthcare setting. Persons in this role are also tasked with ensuring that the information is correct while protecting patient privacy.
- What is the salary of a health information management? The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median pay for medical records and health information specialists in 2020 was $44,090 per year or $21.20 per hour. Though, this amount can vary based on education, experience, certifications, job location, and more.
- Why choose a career in health information management? Health information management combines healthcare with technology. People working in this role help ensure that patient data is correct, which can be beneficial to healthcare professionals working to diagnose and treat the patient. Accurate patient data can also be helpful on a larger scale if this information is used to look for health-related trends within a population or to decide if a specific medical treatment is effective.