The following article talks about the most important aspects of a career in health information management. You will learn what health information managers do, where they are employed, job duties, how to become one, common career paths, and more.

What We Do

Health information managers (HIM) are responsible for managing the personal and medical information of patients of health care facilities, including hospitals, doctor’s offices and nursing homes, among others. Managers need to accurately and securely manage patients’ patient histories, lab tests and results, x-rays, clinical information, and health care practitioner notes.

Health information managers are also responsible for acquiring, analyzing and protecting digital and paper-based medical information that is critical to providing the best patient care.

These healthcare professionals are also important because most patients visit multiple health care facilities in their lives. Thus their patient information must be shared privately and securely with those different entities. Health information managers make this happen.

HIM professionals receive the highest level of training in cutting edge information management technology applications. They deeply understand the workflow in all healthcare provider organizations, from a major hospital system to a private doctor’s office. HIM professionals are very important to the proper operation of all medical facilities today, especially regarding the safe and secure management of health information and electronic health records (EHRs).

The highest duty of a health information manager is to ensure that the health and personal information of all patients is accurate, protected and complete.

Job Duties

Health information managers have the following duties:

  • Handles the collection, aggregation, analysis and dissemination of patient health data
  • Accurate collects on time health information from patients and is responsible for its storage, security, disclosure and maintenance
  • Represents the interests of the patient in areas of security and privacy, information release and all issues regarding record access
  • Makes sure that all confidential patient data is private, secure and in accordance with all relevant state and federal laws
  • Develop policies to support the highest quality health care, by ensuring that high quality health care information is available

Where We Work

Health information managers work in hospitals, doctor’s offices, hospice care, nursing home and long term care facilities for the most part. Anywhere that patients receive health care, skilled health information management experts are needed to handle their personal and healthcare data.

In terms of geographic location, below are some of the top cities where health information managers can find great job opportunities:

  • Austin, Texas: This booming Texas city is seeing very fast job growth, especially in the tech field and healthcare. This is also the home of the state government and the University of Texas, so this is fine place to find healthcare jobs generally.
  • San Antonio, Texas: This growing Texas city has many health care organizations that are growing quickly, along with the population. It also features a relatively low cost of living and rising salaries for healthcare workers.
  • Salt Lake City, Utah: There is strong growth going on in Salt Lake City and a very low unemployment rate. More seniors are retiring to sunny Utah, and there should be plenty of health care information management jobs in the future.
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: This midwestern town was ranked back in 2008 as one of the most recession proof American cities. There is strong job growth here and a very low cost of living, making it a good place for many healthcare professionals.
  • Raleigh, North Carolina: This is the home of the Duke Raleigh Hospital and the WakeMed Health and Hospital facilities, so you will be able to find great work opportunities here in health information management.

How to Become

A health information manager will usually have a bachelor’s degree in business, nursing, public administration or business administration. You may also want to obtain a master’s of business in health care management, or health care informatics.

As noted in the certifications section, it is helpful to gain a certification from the AHIMA in health care management for the best career prospects.

Employment/Salaries

Health information managers are well paid, with salaries ranging from $56,000 for less experienced professionals to more than $150,000 per year for those with years of experience and a master’s degree.

Salary also will depend upon the type of facility in which you work:

  • Hospitals: $102,000
  • Government: $101,000
  • Doctor’s office: $85,000
  • Health healthcare: $82,000
  • Nursing home: $78,000

Payscale.com reports that the median salary in this field is $53,000, and the range can be from $33,600 to $79,250.

Career Paths

Common career paths for professionals with health information management skills include:

  • Medical and health service managers: May be called a healthcare executive or a healthcare administrator. They are responsible for the planning, directing and management of medical and healthcare services.
  • Nursing home administrators: Responsible for the management of staff, information, admission, finances and building operation for a nursing home. Also ensures the safety and good care of all residents.
  • Clinical managers: May oversee a certain department in a healthcare facility, such as PT, surgery or nursing. Clinical managers are responsible for patient information in their area, and set and execute policies, procedures and goals for that department.

A common entry career path is that of health information technician. In this role, you will be responsible for the organization and management of health information data. You will ensure that it is highly accurate, accessible and secure, and reflects the actual condition of the patient. You will learn how to use a variety of classification systems to categorize and code critical patient information to ensure that insurance will do reimbursement.

Health information technicians also become skilled in the use of electronic health records. These electronic records will continue to evolve over time, and you will need to learn the latest EHR software as it becomes available.

After working as a health information technician, you may eventually move into a role as a health information manager.

Education Requirements

Most health information managers earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration, and earn either an MBA in healthcare management, or possibly a master’s degree in healthcare informatics or healthcare management. Public administration, nursing or another health care field is also a suitable background.

It is not necessary to have a clinical background to succeed as a health information manager, but some experienced clinicians do transfer into this career and do well.

If your role is going to be in health care informatics, then you may benefit from having a computer science degree, too.

Specializations

In the field of health information management, you may work either as a health information manager or a health informatics manager. These are similar roles with some of the same duties. What is the difference?

  • Health information managers are largely concerned with the organization and management of patient data in the medical record itself. HIMs are usually in charge of coding vital health information for research and reimbursement purposes, and also for ensuring regulatory compliance for patient data.
  • Health informatics managers actually design and develop critical information systems and processes that enhance the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of health care. They also assess new technologies for use in the healthcare system. Health informatics is more computer science based than health information management.

Training and Certifications

Earning a certification in health information management can be crucial to furthering your career. Some of the most important HIM certifications are issued by the American Health Information Management Association or AHIMA.

The most common certifications issued in health information management by AHIMA are:

  • Registered Health Information Administrator or RHIA: A RHIA is a very vital link between care providers, payers and patients. The RHIA is expert in the management of patient health information and medical records. He or she also is highly skilled in the administration of computer information systems, analyzing and collecting critical patient data, and using medical terminology and classification systems. RHIAs must have complete knowledge of medical, ethical, legal and administrative requirements and standards that relate to healthcare delivery.
  • Registered Health Information Technician or RHIT: Holding the RHIT designation is important for health information technicians who must ensure the quality of patient medical records. They must verify that the records are complete, accurate and entered properly into facility computer systems. They also use advanced computer applications to analyze and assemble patient data to control costs and to improve the care of patients.

References

Henry Steele
Henry Steele
Henry is Editor-in-Chief of Business Student.com. He is a seasoned business professional who regularly consults with local business's throughout Southern California. Henry pursued his undergrad in Business and Economics at the University of San Diego and gained valuable life changing experience through a unique internship upon graduation.

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