Health Information Management Schools

The Health Information Management (HIM) career is a growing field where students can work with medical data to organize and analyze health data as it is collected in clinical settings. Health information managers often work closely with information technology staff as well as clinical staff to ensure workflows that maximize the efficacy of data collection. Health information managers are able to weigh in on how to improve patient outcomes as well as clinical efficiency by analyzing the data available to them and applying their knowledge.

Most health information management professionals obtain at least a bachelor’s degree education that is specifically targeted towards HIM. There are many of these programs available around the U.S. that teach a foundation of medical knowledge and administration that can form the basis of a very rewarding career.

Health information managers and directors work in a variety of settings including hospitals, clinics, private practice offices, mental health care facilities and other clinical settings. However, they are also increasingly employed in non-clinical settings as well including insurance companies, software companies and government positions. Keep reading to learn more about the available HIM programs in the U.S. and how to become certified as an RHIA.

Degree & Certification Programs

Rasmussen College - Online
Health Information Technician (Associate's)
Health Information Management (Bachelor's)
Medical Billing and Coding (Certificate)
Southern New Hampshire University
BS in Health Information Management
Penn Foster Career School
Online Career Diploma - Medical Coding & Billing
Online Certificate - ICD-10 for ICD-9 Coders
Online Certificate - Health Information Management
*sponsored

An education past high school is necessary in order to pursue a career in health information management. There are no specific legal requirements in order to pursue this career, but obtaining a degree at the undergraduate level, at minimum, is highly recommended.

Luckily there are a number of health information management programs around the country that cater to students who want to learn more about this growing field. Most of the programs offered culminate in a bachelor of science (BS) degree, although associate’s degrees, master’s degree, and certifications are all available at some locations as well. It should be noted that in order to become a Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA), a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement.

    • University of Illinois at Chicago (BS) – The University of Illinois at Chicago, as part of their department of biomedical and health information sciences college of applied health Sciences offers a bachelor of science degree in health information management. The program is expected to take two years to complete for students who are able to dedicate themselves to a full-time schedule, or three years on a part-time basis. Professional practice experience, by way of the school’s relationships with local healthcare facilities, is integrated into the 63-credit program.
    • Southern University at New Orleans (BS) – Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO) offers a bachelor of science degree in health information management systems. In order to complete this campus-based program, students must satisfy all general education requirements for the school in addition to the specified HIM degree requirements, which include a professional practicum experience. Students generally choose to complete their practicum experience in a hospital, behavioral health facility, ambulatory facility, or nursing home that is local to the New Orleans area.

    • The Ohio State University (BS) – The Ohio State University (OSU) in Columbus has a campus-based bachelor of science program in health information management and systems in the school of health and rehabilitation sciences.  OSU offers a 4-year schedule, including general education requirements, prerequisites and the 2-year HIMS curriculum in order to complete the program. The 63-hour HIMS curriculum culminates in a 6-week management professional practice affiliation that can be completed in Ohio or another state.  Prior to applying to the program, students must schedule an informational tour or interview with a HIMS professional in order to determine the student’s suitability and desire to commit to the program.

    • University of Central Florida (BS) – The University of Central Florida (UCF) in Orlando offers a bachelor of science degree program in health informatics and information management. One particularly notable part of this program is that senior students spend 5 weeks in a professional, hands-on experience called a “management affiliation” somewhere in the state of Florida. This full-time internship can thoroughly prepare graduating seniors for the rigors and practicalities of a career in health information management. The school also offers two scholarships specific to their HIIM program: the Carole Barr Scholarship and the Betty W. Kernodle Memorial Scholarship.

    • University of Washington (MS) – The University of Washington in Seattle is one of the few schools in the country that offers a master of science degree in health informatics and health information management as part of their school of public health. The program uses a hybrid delivery model for working professionals, with classes meeting on-campus just once per month.  

 

Hybrid & online programs

George Mason University
Online MSHI - MS in Health Informatics
St. Joseph's University
Online MSHA - Informatics Track
Arizona State University
Health Informatics (MAS)
*sponsored

Many HIM degree programs are offered as online or hybrid online/campus programs. This allows working professionals to pursue an advanced degree in order to further their health information management careers without leaving their current position or relocating in order to take classes. The programs featured here will prepare students to take the RHIA exam just as thoroughly as classroom-based programs do.

  • University of Wisconsin (BS) – The University of Wisconsin offers a bachelor of science degree in health information management and technology. The 60 credit program is offered entirely online with flexible scheduling, making it perfect for those students who want to work and go to school at the same time. There are no on-campus requirements for this program, although students can still take advantage of services such as career placement, advising, and libraries.

  • Rutgers (BS) – The Rutgers School of Health Professions offers a bachelor of science degree in health information management that is available entirely online. The academic reputation of Rutgers is quite prestigious and graduates from this rigorous program can expect to be well prepared for the RHIA exam. According to Rutgers internal surveys, within 6 months of graduation, 90 percent of graduates are employed in the health information management career. The program also offers annual need-based and merit scholarships, which students should consider applying for if eligible.

  • University of Kansas (BS) – The University of Kansas School of Health Professions offers a bachelor of science degree in health information management. The two-year program is open to undergraduates as well as community college students who have completed the necessary general education requirements. Many of the courses are offered in a hybrid format with classroom and online elements. There is also an online RHIT-to-RHIA option for those who have already earned their Registered Health Information Technician credential. For the BS program, at the end of the student’s senior year, the program requires a 4-week professional internship. For particularly ambitious students, the school also offers a track to complete both a BS and a master’s degree in health services administration in just five years. 93 percent of students who graduate from the B.S. program pass the RHIA exam. 

Core & Elective Courses

The curriculum for a Health Information Management degree is not strictly prescribed. However, there are a number of courses that are standard across most programs as core requirements, including:

  • Pharmacology
  • Human resource management
  • Human pathophysiology
  • Health records
  • Health information management and the law
  • Coding and classification systems
  • Financial management
  • Medical terminology

It is important to note that though most of these course will be required as part of a HIM education, they may go by different course titles as decided by the faculty of an individual institution.

Because the majority of HIM programs culminate in a bachelor of science degree, elective courses tend to be found in the general education requirements of that program and may range from anything to additional science courses to courses in the arts and humanities. These elective opportunities are a good chance for students to explore different areas and broaden the horizons of their education.

Accreditation

In order to be eligible for the RHIA exam, students must graduate from a program that has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for the Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). A full list of accredited programs in the U.S. is available on the CAHIIM website.

This accreditation process assures the academic integrity of the program. The standards for accreditation for undergraduate and graduate programs are different but similar. A full accounting of the undergraduate accreditation standards and graduate accreditation standards is available in pdf format on the CAHIIM website. The initial accreditation process includes an application, thorough self-assessment, CAHIIM review and site visit and final council and board review.

In addition to CAHIIM accreditation, every institution should have general accreditation from a national organization that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. For instance, a HIM program might be accredited by the CAHIIM while the school over all may have accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission or another regional accreditation agency.

Career Outlook

According to the BLS, the projected demand for health information professionals is quite high with growth expected to measure 14 percent between 2016 and 2026 (BLS 2017). The BLS does not specifically track health information manager and director demand, meaning the BLS numbers apply to the broader field of medical records and health information, as opposed to health information management specifically. The increased demand for these professionals could add up to 27,800 new jobs by 2026.

There are a number of reasons that there will be an increased demand for health information management professionals. Firstly, as all medical records continue to take the form of electronic health records (EHR) there is an increased need for people who know how to organize and assess these types of records. Further, there is a growing demand among employers for more efficiency and so a more sophisticated understanding of health information systems looks to be important going forward, as does clinical exposure and experience that would enable a medical professional to perform advanced analytics aimed at improving patient outcomes.

Because the health information management profession does require specific education and offers certification, those employed in the career can expect salaries that reflect that dedication. The BLS reports that the position pays an average annual salary of $42,820. Those with the RHIA credential can expect higher wages overall as well as better opportunities for growth and career advancement.

Career Facts Health Informatics
Related CareersComputer and Information Systems Manager, Nursing Information Systems Coordinator
Common Job TitlesClinical Informatics Director, Clinical Informatics Strategist, Clinical Informations Systems Coordinator
Technology & EquipmentMedical Imaging Database Systems, Medical Software, Medical Picture Archiving Systems, Computers
Sourced from BLS, June 2018

Licensing & Certification

Although there is no government licensing process for these professionals, anyone who wishes to sit for the Registered Health Information Administrator exam must first complete a bachelor's level degree from an accredited institution. This exam is offered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). Students can begin to register for the exam during their final semester in an accredited program in order to jumpstart their careers upon graduation.