A Bright Future

The health care industry is getting more technologically advanced every year. And with those advances, comes a need for people who not only understand how to use the technology, but can help make innovations that will continue to advance the system.

One of the degrees that can put you at the heart of all the action is a health information technology degree. This type of degree program will teach you how to use technology to collect, analyze, monitor, maintain and report health data. If you’re interested in the medical field, a health information technology program offers a truly fascinating point from which to explore your passions and start your career.

In the classroom and in the field, when you’re enrolled in a health information technology program, you’ll learn to process requests for the release of personal health information, code clinical information, process and use health data for clinical quality management, bill patients for services (and provide reimbursement) and learn compliance while protecting patient privacy. And frankly, the jobs you’ll receive after you receive your health information technology degree will put you in a position of great responsibility and control.

Post-Health Information Technology Program Jobs

With the degree in hand, some of the positions you can expect to work in include:

o Health Information Technician. Job responsibilities often include reviewing medical charts to check for completion and accuracy, generating reports and assigning diagnosis codes to medical charts for insurance claims and data collection purposes, plus gathering, analyzing and managing information about patients so healthcare providers can properly care for them.

o Medical Coder. With a health information technology degree you can enter the field as a medical coder, which, because of its medical and business nature, is often a springboard for advancement opportunities within the healthcare sector. Some of the responsibilities of a medical coder include reviewing medical documents provided by physicians, then translating the information into numeric codes and sequencing diagnostic and procedural codes by using a standard healthcare coding system. This work is crucial to the financial reimbursement of healthcare professionals by the insurance companies that provide policies for the patients.

o Health Information Administrator. After completing a health information technology program you may work as a healthcare administrator. In this position you will oversee (or as an entry-level job assist the person who oversees) the business of providing services to patients and manage the health information systems that house the medical facility’s patient-related documents, insurance information, and business documentation.

o Medical Secretary. Medical secretaries help maintain order in the office and provide the support necessary for proper patient care. Some of the job responsibilities may include transcribing dictation, generating correspondence, assisting physicians with reports, speeches, articles, and conference proceedings, as well as providing technological support and maintaining medical records.

The Job Outlook

According to a 2006-2007 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report, employment for medical records and health information technicians is expected to grow much faster than average for all occupations from now through 2014.

A few highlights of the BLS report include:

o Job prospects should be very good; technicians with a strong background in medical coding will be in particularly high demand.

o Those entering the field will usually have an associate degree; courses include anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, statistics, and computer science.

o Most employers prefer to hire Registered Health Information Technicians (RHIT), who must pass a written examination offered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). To take the examination, a person must graduate from a 2-year health information technology program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). Technicians who receive a Health Information Technology degree from a non-CAHIIM-accredited program or who are trained on the job are not eligible to take the examination.

o Median annual earnings of medical records and health information technicians were $25,590 in 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $20,650 and $32,990. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $17,720, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $41,760.
With a job outlook so bright – and an education that’s both challenging and exciting – choosing a health information technology degree program is an intelligent step to a rewarding career.

Careers in Health Information Technology

Health Information technology is the secure exchange of electronic health records between health care professionals, insurance providers, patients, and the government.

The problem with medical records being recorded on paper is they have to be stored in filing cabinets at the physicians office, or in a box at the patients home. Then, when providers want to access the medical records they have to be mailed, faxed, or physically brought to the appointment by the patient. Furthermore, handwritten notes and prescriptions can have poor legibility, making them difficult to read. This obsolete system can cause medication errors, duplicate testing, and increased health care cost.

The Main Advantages of using Health IT include:

Decrease paperwork
Access patients medical records instantly
Increase accuracy of Patients Medical Information
More efficient system
Reduce Cost

In addition, the technology can increase the public health by:

Early detection of disease outbreaks and viruses
Able to compare health records from different parts of the US

Health Information Technology Jobs

Jobs in Health IT are in high demand with a predicted growth of 21 percent by the year 2020. Some jobs include

Registered Health Information technician (RHIT)
Health Information Manager (HIM)
Medical Biller
Medical Coder
Consultant

Implementation of HIT

According to a study by RAND Health performed in 2005, the US health care system could save more than $81 billion a year if most healthcare providers were to adopt the technology.

In 2009, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which allocated $19 billion in incentives for eligible healthcare providers who implemented and adopted Health IT before 2015. If hospitals and healthcare providers switched over from paper to electronic health records, they could receive up to $44,000 over four years in Medicare funding and $63,750 over six years in Medicaid funding. After 2015, health care providers will not be able to receive any federal funding.

In order to qualify for the financial incentives of the federal government, healthcare providers must meet strict standards set by the Department of Health and Human Services when implementing Health IT. This promotes interoperability in healthcare and smooth communication between health care providers.

Although the government lends financial incentives to healthcare providers who adopt the technology, the health care providers will pay for the initial cost of the implementing and training staff members how to use the technology. Finally, the reduced cost of paperless medical records is predicted to save money for healthcare providers over the long run.