Health Care Data Analysis Education and Training Program Information
Health information management (HIM) is concerned with gathering and storing patients' medical histories, symptoms, test results and treatments. Health information technicians and managers ensure security, accuracy, quality and accessibility of data while working with physicians, insurance companies and other health facilitators. An associate's degree may be sufficient for an entry-level career, but a bachelor's or master's degree can provide a path to the position of health information manager.
Associate's Degree in Health Information Management
Associate of Science and Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Management programs might appeal to recent high school graduates or men and women who are reentering the workforce or changing their career focus. Graduates might find work with physicians' offices, hospitals, long-term care facilities, home health agencies, government agencies and insurance companies. As working professionals, they'll be expected to present accurate health data utilizing electronic health records (EHR) technology.
Students who plan to earn voluntary certification from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) should be sure to choose an HIM program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). Many colleges offer online and on-campus degree options, both of which usually include supervised practicums.
For admission to an HIM program, high school graduates typically must have completed four years of English, three years each of math and social studies and two years of science. Core deficiencies usually can be made up through college courses that also may satisfy graduation requirements. Other recommended high school courses are anatomy, physiology, intermediate algebra, general business subjects, keyboarding and an introduction to computers.
HIM students typically must complete general education courses in English composition, communications, humanities, mathematics, social and behavioral sciences, computer basics and information literacy. They also might take classes in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel, as well as human anatomy, general pharmacology and medical terminology. Other courses might include:
- Legalities of health care records
- Ambulatory coding
- Inpatient coding
- Health information resources
- HIM systems
- Clinical abstracts
- Statistical data
- Cancer registry
Popular Career Options
HIM professionals have portable jobs that can move across the nation and overseas. They can work in many different environments, including law and healthcare consulting firms, pharmaceutical sales and research. Their scope of responsibility often reflects the size of the department for which they work. Technicians can specialize, but most work in a healthcare facility as one of the following:
- Medical coder
- Coding specialist
- Cancer registrar
With an associate degree from a CAHIIM-accredited school, graduates might pursue voluntary Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) certification from AHIMA. Applicants must pass an exam to earn the RHIT credential.
Bachelor's Degree in Health Information Management
Colleges frequently offer this as a health informatics and health information management (HIHIM) program. Bachelor's candidates are trained to plan, collect, summarize, analyze and disseminate patient and clinical data, whether for individuals or populations. Aspiring health information managers typically complete a range of assignments, including designing, implementing and maintaining data systems. They're also likely to learn to determine relevant policies and budgets, tend to hiring and in-service education, and assist with research.
A high school diploma or the equivalent typically is needed for admission to a bachelor's program. Schools might give preference to those who already hold an associate degree from a CAHIIM-accredited school, in addition to an RHIT credential.
Support courses for these programs often include human anatomy, disease concepts, health statistics, introduction to healthcare systems and data, electronic health records, and organizational theory and management. Other classes are likely to include:
- Health informatics
- Clinical issues
- Human resource management
- Elementary statistics
- Privacy and security management
- Data analysis and business applications
- Departmental finance and budget
- Managing EHR systems
- Ethics, law and medicine
- HIHIM systems management
Popular Career Options
Graduates of a bachelor's program in health informatics and health information management might step into positions such as:
- HIM department director
- Health data analyst
- Physician practice manager
Many colleges offer a post-baccalaureate certificate in health information management, often as an online program. These are designed to expand on bachelor's programs, providing information and training for leadership positions in the industry. These program also typically are open to working healthcare, information technology (IT) and business professionals who wish to prepare for AHIMA's Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) certification.
With some experience, graduates of bachelor's programs in health information management may be eligible for AHIMA's Certified Health Data Analyst (CHDA) designation. Passage of an exam is required to earn this certification.
Master in Health Information Management
While dedicated to healthcare, master's programs in health information management also might appeal to students with backgrounds in clinical practice, IT, laboratory science and management. As a result, programs often provide opportunities not only for healthcare immersion, but also for interdisciplinary discussion and application.
Applicants should hold a bachelor's degree. They also might be asked to submit a personal statement of intent, current resume, official transcripts, letters of reference and GRE and GMAT scores.
Master's candidates develop skills in the essential disciplines of health information management. Programs may incorporate internships, research projects, practicums, electives, lectures, seminars and capstone projects. Typical courses include:
- Analysis and design of systems
- Communications and networking
- Medical informatics
- Introduction to biostatistics
- Healthcare project management
- Electronic health records
- Evidence in healthcare
- Health economics
- Health: data mining and warehousing
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of medical records and health information technicians was forecast to rise by 21% in the decade spanning 2010-2020, which was faster than the average for all occupations (www.bls.gov). The increasing use of medical tests, treatments and procedures and an aging population with higher incidences of cancer were expected to drive this rapid growth. Medical and health services managers, including health information managers, were projected to see similar job growth, with a 22% increase from 2010-2020.
The BLS reported median annual wages of $34,160 for medical records and health information technicians as of May 2012. Health information managers had a salary range of $29,606-$71,619 as of December 2013, according to PayScale.com.
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