Health Information Technology
The mission of the Health Information Technology (HIT) program at MVCC is to provide the necessary educational opportunities to prepare students for certification and practice as Registered Health Information Technicians(RHIT). Health Information Technology is an evolving profession in the health care environment. The HIT program takes the responsibility to educate and develop a skilled work force to support the needs of the health care industry.
New Medical Records Privacy Law Increases Demand for
Health Information Management Professionals.
It is an occupation that is unlikely to be profiled on a TV hospital drama, but this behind-the-scenes healthcare profession is in the spotlight and one of the fastest growing fields in the U.S. The pressing issue of properly managing and protecting patient health information has steadily increased the demand for health information management professionals, the gatekeepers of this critical data.
Health information management professionals maintain, collect and analyze the data that doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers rely on to deliver quality healthcare. They are experts in managing patient health information and medical records, administering computer information systems and coding the diagnosis and procedures for healthcare services provided to patients.
Fueling the demand for these health data experts is the passage of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which includes provisions for the privacy and protection of patient health information. The rules for these provisions went into effect on April 14, 2001 and healthcare providers are required to implement them by April 2003.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of health information management professionals is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through 2008. The implementation of HIPAA and its health information privacy provisions will create an even greater demand than the BLS forecast.
On top of strong job prospects, the field offers competitive salaries. More than half of new health information management graduates with a bachelor's degree start with salaries in the $30,000 to $50,000 range. Five years out, many are earning $50,000 to $75,000. New HIM graduates with an associate's degree can earn $30,000 to $35,000 annually.
In addition, the profession offers career flexibility and a variety of workplace options. Depending on skills, education and interests, health information management professionals with an associate's degree can hold positions such as health data analyst, insurance claims analyst, and clinical coding specialist; and with a bachelor's degree, jobs can include health information management director, health information management systems manager and information security officer. Practice settings include hospitals, physician offices and clinics, long-term care facilities, insurance companies, government agencies and home care providers.
As is the case with most healthcare professionals, health information management professionals are certified to validate their competence to employers and the public. After completing either an associate's or bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, they complete a certification exam administered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), the national association of health information management professionals. The two key credentials are Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA), which requires a bachelor's degree, and the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT), which requires an associate's degree. AHIMA also offers two credentials for experienced medical coders, who code the diagnosis and procedures for healthcare services provided to patients. These credentials are Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) and Certified Coding Specialist-Physician-based (CCS-P).
For general information on the health information management field, accredited schools and financial aid contact: American Health Information Management Association, 233 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 2150, Chicago, IL 60601-5519, (312) 233-1100; www.ahima.org