Electronic Health Records Jobs: Duties, Salaries and Requirements
Health information technicians input medical reports from physical charts into electronic records on secure computer databases. Most technicians type in the information or scan entire charts into each patient's system file. In most cases, several technicians compose the medical records department at hospitals. Professionals in this field may also find work at private facilities, like billing offices or research laboratories.
Electronic Health Records Job Duties
Health information technicians manage medical records; they review each patient's physical chart, including the medical history, doctor's notes and current medications. They then enter that information into an electronic database system or verify if it was entered correctly.
Sometimes technicians send records to other departments. For instance, in order to bill a patient or insurance company, each procedure or service provided needs to be assigned a particular code that refers to an agreed-upon fee. Therefore technicians frequently send electronic health records to the coding department.
Another key job duty includes running reports. Some reports deal with security procedures, such as checking who is accessing information, how long records are being reviewed and from which terminals. Other reports might compare the medical records of each patient with each office visit to check for consistency.
Employment Growth and Salaries for Electronic Health Records Jobs
Over the period spanning 2010-2020, faster-than-average 21% employment growth is projected for medical records and health information technicians, according to the BLS. In May 2012, the BLS reported that these technicians earned an average annual salary of $36,770. In that same year, the BLS showed that the states paying the highest annual average salary were New Jersey ($55,130), the District of Columbia ($45,500), Hawaii ($42,500), California ($42,270) and Colorado ($42,110). As of the same year, the BLS reported that the five top-paying industries for medical records and health information technicians were as follows:
- Pharmaceutical manufacturers: $66,060
- Insurance and employee benefit funds: $51,840
- Scientific research and development services: $48,060
- Grantmaking and giving services: $46,840
- Federal executive government: $46,280
Electronic Health Records Career Requirements
Most positions require candidates to possess the minimum of an associate's degree, per the BLS. Several community colleges offer a 2-year Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Technology. Coursework includes medical terminology, anatomy physiology, health records systems and database maintenance.
Although certification is not required, certified technicians may have a better chance at getting a job. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), among other organizations, provides certification programs specifically for health information technicians. For example, AHIMA's Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) credential proves that the technician who possesses it knows how to use electronic records databases and how to run quality-control checks.
Applicants have to be eligible to enter a certification program, which can include a certain amount of education and job experience. After meeting the eligibility requirements, applicants must pass one or more exams to be certified. Recertification can involve retaking the exam every few years or periodically participating in approved continued-education coursework. Some organizations require both of these steps to renew credentials.
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