Entry Points into a Health Information Management (HIM) Career
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A career in health information management (HIM) draws individuals from a variety of non-healthcare-related industries. Those who are not currently working within the healthcare arena can leverage their experience to begin a HIM career. HIM capitalizes on these universal core skillsets:
- Attention to detail
Although there are many paths to a career in health information management (HIM), this article explores ten jobs that make for a particularly smooth transition when combined with the right education and/or HIM certifications.
1. Customer Service Representative
With a flair for professionalism, customer service representatives in a variety of industries are ideal candidates for a career in HIM. Customer service specialists understand the importance of respectful and sensitive communication. These individuals also often possess critical troubleshooting skills and the ability to work well under pressure. Both of these skills are essential in HIM, especially in positions such as patient registrar, insurance claims clerk, or collections clerk.
2. Legal Assistant
The ability to thrive in a deadline-driven and detail-oriented environment is important for both legal assistants and those working in HIM as credentialing specialists or medical coders/billers. In the legal world, details could mean the difference between losing and winning a court case. In the HIM world, details can make or break an insurance claim payment, or even directly affect patient care.
Those who can translate complex information into something that others can understand easily can be a great asset to any HIM department. In particular, teachers are excellent communicators who enjoy imparting knowledge to others. The same is true for HIM professionals striving to provide patient education. Regardless of the specific role in which they serve, many HIM professionals find themselves in a position of educating patients about insurance coverage, patient portals, coded data, and more.
4. Military Veteran
Many military veterans are accustomed to working in a regulatory and compliance-driven environment and possess technical skillsets that are useful in a variety of HIM positions, particularly medical coder/biller, auditor, or compliance officer.
5. Personal Caretaker
Those who serve as caretakers already possess the interpersonal skills necessary to thrive in HIM positions such as patient advocate or patient registrar, both of which require strong communication skills.
6. Data Entry Clerk
Attention to detail is at the core of data entry, and the same is true for those working in HIM as medical coders/billers or cancer registrars. Data integrity is paramount in HIM—particularly as big data and data analytics continue to take center stage.
7. Sales Representative
Communications skills are important for those working in both sales and HIM—particularly in positions that require direct patient contact such as patient registrar, collections clerk, insurance claims clerk, or medical billing representative.
8. Administrative Assistant
Administrative assistants are often viewed as “jacks of all trades,” and the same is true for HIM clerks and medical office administrators. These individuals are all highly organized and multi-task regularly. The ability to adapt quickly is important in HIM because the healthcare industry is constantly changing and evolving.
9. Clinical Care Provider
With their vast clinical expertise, providers such as nurses, phlebotomists, radiology technicians, and others are a natural fit for a variety of positions within a HIM department—particularly clinical documentation improvement specialist, DRG validator, or physician advisor. Individuals who make the transition from direct patient care into HIM may enjoy the administrative side of medicine and healthcare more than the clinical side.
10. Computer Technician
As electronic health records (EHR) have become more mainstream, computer skills are a must-have in HIM. Not only are claims submitted electronically, but clinical data is increasingly captured and analyzed electronically as well. The ability to run reports, analyze data, and integrate systems is particularly helpful in positions such as EHR implementation specialist, health information technician, data mapping specialist, or data architect.
The Future of Working in HIM
The jobs listed above are not the only launching points for a career in HIM. In fact, for those with current careers requiring the following skills listed below, the transition into HIM may be relatively easy. These are the ten most important skills required of HIM professionals, according to the American Health Information Management Association’s (AHIMA) Workforce Study:
- Medical coding
- Privacy and security information management
- Analytical thinking
- Ability to ensure data integrity
- Critical thinking
- Clinical documentation improvement
- EHR management
- Written, spoken, and verbal communication
- Developing and promoting HIM standards
To learn more about career paths in HIM, view AHIMA’s self-assessments to plan for a future in health information management.