Health Information Management Technology
|2015 Median Pay||$37,110 per year /$17.84 per hour|
|Entry Level Education||Associate's degree|
|Number of Jobs, 2014||186,600|
|Job growth, 2014-24||15% (29,000 more positions)|
Nature of the Work
Medical records and health information technicians assemble patients’ health information, including medical history, symptoms, examination results, diagnostic tests, treatment methods, and all other healthcare provider services. Technicians organize and manage health information data by ensuring its quality, accuracy, accessibility, and security. They regularly communicate with physicians and other healthcare professionals to clarify diagnoses or to obtain additional information.
The increasing use of electronic health records (EHR) will continue to broaden and alter the job responsibilities of health information technicians. For example, with the use of EHRs, technicians must be familiar with EHR computer software, maintaining EHR security, and analyzing electronic data to improve healthcare information. Health information technicians use EHR software to maintain data on patient safety, patterns of disease, and disease treatment and outcome. Technicians also may assist with improving EHR software usability and may contribute to the development and maintenance of health information networks.
Medical records and health information technicians’ duties vary with the size of the facility where they work. Technicians can specialize in many aspects of health information. Some medical records and health information technicians specialize in codifying patients’ medical information for reimbursement purposes. Technicians who specialize in coding are called medical coders or coding specialists. Medical coders assign a code to each diagnosis and procedure by using classification systems software. The classification system determines the amount for which Medicare, Medicaid, or other insurance programs will reimburse healthcare providers. Coders may use several coding systems, such as those required for ambulatory settings, physician offices, or long-term care.
Medical records and health information technicians also may specialize in cancer registry. Cancer (or tumor) registrars maintain facility, regional, and national databases of cancer patients. Registrars review patient records and pathology reports, and assign codes for the diagnosis and treatment of different cancers and selected benign tumors. Registrars conduct annual follow-ups to track treatment, survival, and recovery. This information is used to calculate survivor rates and success rates of various types of treatment, to locate geographic areas with high incidences of certain cancers, and to identify potential participants for clinical drug trials.
Medical records and health information technicians work in pleasant and comfortable offices. This is one of the few health-related occupations in which there is no direct hands-on patient care. Medical records and health information technicians usually work a typical 40-hour week. Some overtime may be required. In health facilities that are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, technicians may work day, evening, and night shifts. Health information technicians held about 188,600 jobs in 2014. Most health information technicians work in hospitals or physicians' offices.
Medical records and health information technicians held about 186,300 jobs nationally in 2014. About 39 percent of jobs were in hospitals. Health information technicians work at a number of healthcare providers such as offices of physicians, nursing care facilities, outpatient care centers, and home healthcare services. Technicians also gain employment outside of healthcare facilities, such as in federal government agencies. Employment of medical records and health information technicians is expected to increase by 21 percent, faster than the average for all occupations through 2020. Employment growth will result from the increase in the number of medical tests, treatments, and procedures that doctors perform.
The median annual wage for medical records and health information technicians was $37,110 in May 2015. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $24,190, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $61,400.