Medical Records Technician Certification and Certificate Info

Medical records technicians, also called medical billers and coders, medical office assistants and health information technicians, maintain medical records at healthcare facilities. Courses cover topics including computer software, medical coding and office procedures. Read on for information on educational prerequisites, curriculum and certification requirements.

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Essential Information

Certificate programs for medical records technicians are primarily offered through community colleges, universities and vocational schools. Such programs typically take 1-2 semesters to complete and are designed to provide students with an understanding of how to manage records and information in a healthcare environment. In addition to learning basic computer, keyboarding and administration skills, aspiring medical records technicians learn about medical billing and coding techniques, medical terminology and health center organization.

Aspiring medical records technicians enrolled in a certificate program learn to manage and operate the newest electronic records systems being used by healthcare facilities. They also learn old-fashioned filing, record retrieval and sometimes even transcribing techniques.

Graduates may qualify for certification in medical coding procedures. Many organizations prefer medical records technicians to have an associate degree, but some accept entry-level employees who have earned certificates, especially if they hold professional certification.

Education Prerequisites

A high school diploma or GED is an absolute requirement for any individual seeking to enter into a Medical Records Technician Certificate program. Some schools also require incoming students to submit SAT or ACT scores, while others do not require standardized test scores.

Program Coursework

Certificate programs in medical records technology include classroom lectures on healthcare administration and medical concepts as well as practical training in actual record-keeping procedures. Some examples of class topics include:

  • Foundations of health records
  • Medical terminology
  • Medical office administration
  • Health care and the law
  • Introductory computers
  • Health information record systems
  • Billing and coding

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Hospitals, physicians' offices, nursing care facilities and other healthcare organizations employed about 182,370 medical records and health information technicians in 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported (www.bls.gov). The median annual salary for the profession in that year was just over $34,000, per BLS data. Medical records and health information technicians employed by medicine and pharmaceutical manufacturing companies, however, earned an average of approximately $66,000 in 2012 (BLS).

Certification and Continuing Education Information

Medical records technicians with training in billing and coding procedures have the option to earn coding certification from the American Academy of Professional Coders. Certification is also offered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA); in order to achieve the AHIMA's designation of Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT), medical records clerks are required to have at least an associate's degree in the field. Graduates of a certificate program who are interested in educational opportunities beyond an associate's degree can also enroll in bachelor's or master's degree programs in health information management and healthcare administration.

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