Health information technicians generally work in hospitals, HMOs or clinics where they organize and evaluate patient health records. They review the patients' records to make sure they are correct and accurate. Then they code patient data according to a system that gives a number to symptoms, disease, diagnoses, surgery, treatments and medications. In hospitals or large clinics, health information technicians supervise medical coders who usually do this task. Using this coded information, health information technicians provide administrators with reports and health statistics that help them evaluate and plan hospital programs. This information is also used by insurance companies and government agencies to keep track of how hospitals and doctors are providing care to patients.
Many health information technicians work as managers, supervising other medical records department employees such as medical records clerks, transcriptionists and coders. They must know coding system regulations and understand payment procedures of health insurance firms, HMOs and government programs such as Medicare.
Health information technicians must be a high school graduate or GED, including English or ESL, math and have an Associate degree from a health information technician program. These programs cover medical terminology, anatomy, statistics, database management, medical coding and legal aspects of health information. Graduates of health information technician programs are eligible to take an exam and be certified by the American Health Information Management Association as a Registered Health Information Technician. Most hospitals require this certification for employment.
Some hospitals may promote medical records clerks who have a high school diploma or GED into health information technician positions, but some related college coursework is usually required.
Links to Additional Career Information
California Health Information Association (559) 251-5038 www.californiahia.org
American Health Information Management Association (312) 233-1100 www.ahima.org