Medical Records and Health Information Technicians - Career Opportunities
Medical records and health information technicians handle and organize patient records,
and evaluate these records for completeness and accuracy.
They may specialize in coding patients' medical information for insurance purposes.
They will tabulate and analyze data to improve patient care, control costs, provide
documentation for use in legal actions and respond to surveys for use in research studies.
They conduct annual follow-ups on all patients to track their treatment, survival, and
recovery. They may supervise health information clerks and transcriptionists.
In 2004 there were about 159,000 technicians in the U.S. About 40 percent worked in
hospitals. The rest were mostly in physician's offices, nursing care facilities, outpatient
care centers, and home health care services. Some worked in insurance firms that deal in health
matters. In public health departments technicians supervise data collection.
Medical records and health information technicians usually have an associate degree from
a community or junior college. Besides a general education, coursework should include
medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, legal aspects of health information, coding
and abstraction of data, statistics, database management, quality improvement methods and
Many job openings require Registered Health Information Technicians (RHIT). They pass a
written exam from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). To take
the exam, one must graduate from a 2-year associate degree program. This should be
accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information
Management Education (CAHIIM). In 2005, there were 184 CAHIIM-accredited programs.
Medical records and health information technicians must be able to:
- organize and evaluate patient records for completeness and accuracy, using modern record
keeping procedures and computer programs
- make sure that patients' initial medical charts are complete
- communicate clearly with physicians and other health care professionals
- manage a department, if they have the training and experience
- work a 40-hour week with some overtime
- be prepared to work day, evening, and night shifts if working in hospitals
- pay close attention to detail
Job Growth for Medical Records and Health Information Technicians:
Job opportunities for medical records and health information technicians will grow much
faster than average for all occupations. Most new jobs are expected to be in physician's
offices because of increasing demand for detailed records. Rapid growth also is expected
in home health care services, outpatient care centers, and nursing and residential care facilities.