What Can I Do With a Degree in Health Information Management?
There are many reasons to select a certain career path, but for those who want to find fulfillment in their everyday life, choosing a career that allows them to help people may be a chief concern. Luckily, you do not have to go to medical school to find a job that allows you to have a measurable impact on the health and wellbeing of others. There are many different ways to participate in the healthcare process that begin with a degree in Health Information Management (HIM). HIM combines specifics of healthcare and information technology in a way that allows doctors, nurses and healthcare facilities to track patient diagnoses and progress, and helps healthcare teams to develop treatment plans and bill insurance carriers.
The demand for those in careers such health management is expected to increase by 17% between the years of 2014 and 2024, making it a fast growing field in the U.S. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014). The different jobs that fall under the large health management umbrella represent opportunities for a range of personality traits, salaries, and career goals. In fact, the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) outlines more than 60 different jobs that are available in field. Following are just a few of those fascinating, lucrative, and rewarding careers.
Careers with a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Information Management
A Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Health Information Management is great starting point for a number of careers. It takes approximately 4 years to earn a BS in Health Information Management. Many HIM professionals find that a BS, combined with increased experience in the field, is sufficient for a fruitful career. A Bachelor’s degree in HIM also allows you to apply for certification as a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) or a Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA), which can be useful in pursuing employment.
Electronic Health Records Manager
What They Do:One of the most common careers that HIM graduates pursue is in Electronic Health Records Management. At the entry level, this job involves reviewing patient records and entering data in an electronic records system. A records manager must have familiarity with medical terminology as well as a strict attention to detail. In addition to data entry, this job can require running records reports, communication among different care departments, and implementing electronic records procedures.
Medical Coding Specialist
What They Do: Medical coding is a critical part of the U.S. healthcare system. When diagnoses and treatments are not coded correctly, payment and scheduling can quickly fall apart. A medical coding specialist is an expert in how the nationally standardized medical codes are applied. In addition to a health information management background, this type of professional may earn coding certification through the AAPC or the AHIMA. Separate exams are available for hospital and physician coding, and further specialization in different departments is possible.
Medical Records Auditor
What They Do: A medical records auditor reviews existing electronic health records so that healthcare facilities can ultimately provide better care. A successful audit can save a facility significant money by improving efficiency and coding. A medical records auditor evaluates the procedures of healthcare providers as well as medical diagnosis code selection and ensures that the facility is in compliance with different healthcare regulations such as HIPAA. After two years of experience, medical auditors are eligible to earn the Certified Medical Auditor (CPMA) credential from the American Academy of Professional Coders. Medical records auditors may work directly for a facility, for an insurance company, or for an outside consultancy.
Health Sciences Information Librarian
What They Do: For those that study HIM and would rather work in an academic environment, there are certainly opportunities, including the Health Sciences Information Librarian career. In this job, the librarian will work specifically in a health sciences focused library to provide information and research assistance to students and faculty as well as keep the library running smoothly. This highly specific career can be difficult to get a foothold in, but can be quite interesting for the right candidate.
What They Do: The treatment of cancer patients is a major undertaking, often requiring many varying procedures including surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy. As such, the medical records of cancer patients as well as cancer studies are their own area of some healthcare facilities. A cancer registrar works specifically with oncology departments to maintain records involving diagnoses, treatment, demographics, and other details that could influence cancer research and developing treatments.
Careers with a Master’s Degree in Health Information Management
A Master of Science degree in Health Information Management can open even more doors in terms of career opportunities. For the positions listed above, a Master’s degree can be necessary in order to advance to senior levels. For the health information positions listed below, an MS is highly recommended if not entirely required.
Chief Clinical Informatics Officer
What They Do: With a Master of Science in Health Information Management, graduates may be able to obtain higher level positions such as Chief Clinical Informatics Officer. This position would involve supervising other health information specialists, developing and implementing systems across facilities, and acting as a community leader in the field of health information. Similar positions may include Director of Health Information Management, or Director of Coding.
RHIA Registered Health Information Administrator
What They Do: The AHIMA offers certification for those holding an MS resulting in the Registered Health Information Administrator credential. Those holding this credential have proven an expert level in managing patient health information and medical records and have a comprehensive knowledge of medical, administrative, ethical and legal requirements for this information. As a career, health information administrators oversee the administration and implementation of new medical records processes and protocol while ensuring that records are properly maintained and secured.