3 Rewarding Health Information Jobs on the Rise
By Ashley Brooks on 10/03/2018
When you’re on the hunt for a new career path, it’s hard to ignore the growing healthcare industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the healthcare industry is projected to add more jobs than any other occupation group through 2026, totaling 2.4 million jobs and 18 percent job growth.1
Not all of those jobs are going to doctors and nurses, either. There are plenty of behind-the-scenes careers that keep the healthcare industry functioning and providing high-quality patient care, including those in health information technology (health IT). The BLS projects strong employment growth for medical coders, health information technicians and the health information managers who oversee their work.1
If you want in on the action but aren’t sure where to start, you’re in the right place. We covered all the bases with this breakdown of three rewarding health information jobs and the steps you can take to get there.
The importance of health information technology
Technology has changed and advanced jobs in nearly every industry, and healthcare is no exception. With the medical community making use of technology like electronic health records (EHRs), health IT professionals are needed to help manage not only the technical side, but also compliance with data privacy regulations. Add in the systems and databases that are used to manage everything from medical coding to prescription drug monitoring, and it’s easy to see why health IT jobs continue to grow.
Despite the technical nature of jobs in this field, it’s not as difficult as you might think to get started in a health IT career. There’s an entry point into health IT at every educational level, from Certificate programs all the way up to Master’s degrees. Take a look at three of these rewarding health information careers to see if one sounds like the right fit for you.
3 Health information jobs you’ll want to consider
Whether you’re just looking to dip your toes in the waters or you’re ready to launch a full-on career, there’s a place for you in the health information industry. Let us introduce you to three different professional paths you may choose to pursue.
1. Medical coder
Projected employment growth (2016–2026): 13 percent1
Medical coders are responsible for reviewing a doctor’s notes after a patient visit, then translating them into the standard code used by insurance agencies so they can be properly billed for the care and treatment a patient received. Insurance agencies aren’t expected to understand medical charts and diagnoses, so medical coders act as interpreters who translate medical language into billing codes.
Daily job duties: Medical coders spend their days reviewing medical records for completeness and accuracy, resolving errors, assigning the correct medical codes and posting the bill to insurance agencies. Since medical records contain sensitive information, medical coders also need to maintain confidentiality and follow state and federal privacy regulations as they go about their work.
Work environment: Medical coders can be found in just about any healthcare facility, from hospitals and clinics to nursing homes. No matter where they work, medical coders spend much of their time working on a computer and communicating with other medical staff about patient records.
Skills needed: These healthcare professionals must be analytical and detail-oriented to accurately review and code medical records, and they should have a high standard of ethical integrity and be comfortable working with technology.
How to become a medical coder: Most employers will require medical coders to have specialized training through a medical coding program to learn the ropes of the billing classification system and other health data requirements. Beyond that, medical coders have the option of taking a certification exam through the American Health Information Managers Association (AHIMA).
If you could picture yourself working as a medical coder, take an in-depth look at this career in our article, “What Is a Medical Coder? An Easy Explanation of This Entry-Level Healthcare Career.”
2. Health information technician
Projected employment growth (2016–2026): 13 percent1
Health information technicians (HIT) navigate the intersection of healthcare and technology by using both data and technology to improve patient outcomes and provide more efficient care. They act as liaisons between technology and care providers.
Daily job duties: A day in the life of a HIT professional includes protecting patient privacy, analyzing data and preparing reports, compiling information that could be useful in improving patient care and maintaining electronic health records.
Work environment: Much like medical coders, HIT professionals are needed in all types of healthcare facilities. HIT workers may have the opportunity to work weekend or overnight shifts depending on the needs of their healthcare organization.
Skills needed: Health information technicians need to be analytically minded and comfortable around technology. Strong observation skills can help them identify practices that need to be adjusted to stay compliant with privacy regulations, and interpersonal skills will help them communicate clearly about patient information with other healthcare personnel.
How to become a health information technician: Some HIT positions require only a high school diploma, but the BLS suggests that many more opportunities will be available to those who earn an Associate’s degree in Health Information Technology. A specialized program will prepare you for the field with knowledge of healthcare regulations and technical skills.
If you think you might have a future as a health information technician, get the full scoop on this growing career in our article, “What Is a Health Information Technician? A Sneak Peek at This Behind-the-Scenes Career.”
3. Health information manager
Projected employment growth (2016–2026): 20 percent1
Health information managers (HIM) are responsible for the security of all patient data and medical records in a medical facility. They’re tasked with staying up to date on privacy regulations as well as ensuring the accuracy and security of their facility’s databases.
Daily job duties: Health information managers divide their time among a variety of different tasks, including researching new data and privacy regulations, managing and supervising a team of health information technicians and recruiting and training new HIT staff members.
Work environment: Most HIMs work in hospitals, but their important work is needed in all types of healthcare facilities. If they’re employed in a setting that provides around-the-clock care, they may work overnight or weekend shifts. They may also be on call to work if an emergency situation arises.
Skills needed: HIMs require the analytical and technical skills of other health information careers, but as managers, they also need additional qualities to be successful. Leadership skills and the ability to communicate well with others are essential to HIMs when supervising and motivating the health IT workers in their department.
How to become a health information manager: The BLS reports that although Bachelor’s degrees are the minimum requirement for HIMs, Master’s degrees are common in the field and are often preferred by employers. Degree programs that combine healthcare and business, like a Bachelor of Health Information Management or a Master of Healthcare Administration, offer a solid education for getting started in this career. Certifications through AHIMA are also options that can boost a health information manager’s resume.
If you like the sound of mixing healthcare, technology and management, a HIM career could be right for you. Find out more in our article, “What Is Health Information Management?”
Analyze your health IT career options
Now that you have all the details on these rising health information jobs, they’re not as intimidating as they first seemed. With a health IT career for every educational level, your next step is to evaluate your skills and interests, analyze the data and choose the career that’s the best fit for you.
Learn how to take the next step into any of these health information careers with Rasmussen College’s Health Sciences programs.
1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [information accessed September 4, 2018] www.bls.gov/ooh/. Employment conditions in your area may vary.