Medical Records Education Requirements and Career Information
Patients admitted into a hospital or another health care institution have information that details their medical histories. A medical records technician is responsible for ensuring that these medical records are assembled properly and are accurate. An associate's degree in health information technology is typically required for students entering into this profession.
An associate's degree in health information technology focuses on the management of electronic medical records. Completion of the degree requires that students be comfortable using computers and have strong organizational skills. Once a student graduates, he or she can choose to pursue certification.
Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Technology
Students enrolled in an associate's degree program in health information technology learn how to handle patient data by using various electronic health care systems and databases. Courses address how to correctly collect, maintain and analyze health data. Students also learn about regulatory standards, and how to ensure that the processes that use medical data for billing and coding meet legal guidelines. Courses address topics such as medical office pharmacology, alternate health records, medical transcription, health care documentation and health information systems.
Certification is an option for graduates of an associate's degree program in health information technology. Currently, the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) credential. To be eligible for this credential, a candidate must graduate from an associate's degree program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). The RHIT credential is awarded after a candidate successfully passes a written examination.
Medical records technicians collect, organize and analyze patients' health records data. This data consists of a patient's medical history. Medical records are increasingly being stored in electronic health records (EHR) systems. This requires that medical records technicians be familiar and comfortable with computer software systems used to collect and organize patient data.
In some instances, a medical records technician may suggest improvements to an electronics health records system. Also, if a patient's health record is deemed incomplete by a medical records technician, the technician may consult with a physician or another health care professional to acquire the missing information.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a 20% increase in the employment of medical records technicians is expected between 2008 and 2018. The BLS also reports that the median annual salary of a medical records technician was $30,610 in May of 2008.
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