Individuals have first-hand experience with health care almost daily. You visit the doctor’s office for a sprained wrist, a mother bears a child, or you are visiting the doctor’s office to get your annual checkup. All of these touch points require detailed record keeping—which is where a health information technologist comes into play.
The job of a health information technologist is critical to providing quality health care. A health information technologist is responsible for recording symptoms and medical history, previous medical exam reports and treatment plans, laboratory test results, and other doctors' diagnoses. Additionally, HIT practitioners often have frequent touch points with doctors and nurses to ensure that records have been properly documented; and may perform medical coding and billing as necessary. A career as a health information technician will allow you to help improve the well being of patients through your detailed records, which in turn helps play a role in their recovery.
The job outlook for a health information technologist is extremely favorable. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of medical records and health information technicians is expected to increase by 18% through 2016. This growth rate is not only sparked by the U.S. government’s push to systemize health records, but also the increase in the number of records that will be scrutinized by health insurance companies, regulators, courts and consumers.
Prerequisites for Obtaining a HIT Degree
If you are a detail-oriented person and would like to help patients, but prefer mostly solitary work, an online Health Information Technician degree may be a great fit for you.
Obtaining a HIT degree is crucial for career advancement in the healthcare field. There are traditional, classroom-based AND online degree programs available for HIT students.
Whether you are seeking a diploma or an Associate’s degree in health information technology or a Bachelor’s degree in health information management, make sure you search for a college that is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission or similar higher education accrediting bodies—as accredited degree programs are often more easily transferrable and can be looked upon by employers in a better light.
Typical Classes for a Health Information Technology Degree-Seeking Student
Some key courses include: Introduction to Health Information Management, where students learn about the HIT profession and the variety of career paths an HIT may take; Basic ICD-9-CM Coding, a course about how to code medical diagnoses using ICD-9-CM; and Quality Analysis and Management, where you will obtain valuable knowledge about performance improvement team, and track and graph your successes.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Medical Records and Health Information Technicians, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos103.htm (visited March 13, 2011).