Associate in Health Information Technology: Degree Overview
Health information technology (IT) is used in the health care industry to reduce health care costs, increase efficiency and improve the quality of health care. An associate's degree in health IT can open doors to employment opportunities in hospitals, medical practices, home health care agencies, nursing homes and clinics.
Associate's Degree in Health Information Technology
Associate degree programs in health information technology combine courses in business, health care and information technology to train students to collect and organize information. Within the program, students learn to manage and code medical information found in medical records, arrange and analyze coded information from medical records for reimbursement purposes, retrieve and input medical information and compile information for research studies and registries. A high school diploma or equivalent is required for admission. Proficiency in keyboarding is also recommended.
Students examine anatomy and physiology, legalities of health information, database management and data coding. Additionally, learners may complete clinical practicum experiences to gain hands-on experience. Course topics may include:
- Medical terminology
- Health information systems
- Insurance and reimbursement processing
- Health care ethics
- Electronic health records
- Management in health organizations
Popular Career Options
Graduates are qualified for opportunities in the health care industry working with medical records and health information. Some popular career choices include:
- Medical records technician
- Health information technician
- Coding specialist
- Medical coder
Job Prospects and Salary and Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that jobs for medical records and health information technicians, including coding specialists and medical coders, are expected to increase 22% from 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). The median salary for this occupation was $34,160 in 2012, per the BLS.
Continuing Education Information
Health information technicians can advance their careers by obtaining certifications or pursuing further education. Technicians that complete bachelor's or master's degree programs are qualified for careers within health information management. Although health information and medical records technicians are not required to be certified, many employers prefer certification.
The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) certification to graduates of 2-year accredited health IT programs. To earn the RHIT credential, candidates must pass a written examination. Coding specialists and medical coders can obtain certification through the Professional Association of Healthcare Coding Specialists (PAHCS), the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) and the Board of Medical Specialty Coding and Compliance (BMSC). Certification specialty coding is offered through the BMSC and PAHCS.
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