Health Information Management Associate Degree
As a specialist in health information management, you'll play a part in seeing that patients receive the help they need. An associate's degree in health information management can provide you with an introduction to the field of health care. Read on to learn how to find an associate degree program, what to expect from your program and what the job market is like. Schools offering Electronic Medical Records degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Do I Need an Associate's Degree in Health Information Management?
In July 2011, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that health information management technicians usually hold an associate's degree (www.bls.gov). The BLS also stated that many employers prefer it if you hold a credential as a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT). You need an associate's degree to be eligible to sit for the RHIT certification examination, which is administered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).
Where Can I Find a Program?
There are at least two sources that can help you locate a school with a degree program that might suit your needs. The Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education offers a list of accredited online and on-campus programs available at colleges and universities throughout the country (www.cahiim.org). In addition, the National Center for Education Statistics offers an online, searchable database that lists over 300 schools that offer associate's degree programs in health information (www.nces.ed.gov).
What Are Some Specifics About the Program?
A 2-year program typically consists of 64-71 credit hours and leads to an Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science in health information technology or management. An associate's degree program teaches you how to process and analyze data and information having to do with medical care and health services. You use computer applications to help you accomplish tasks like organizing patient records and accessing national medical databases.
Upon completion of a program, you'll be able to use standardized medical coding to process patient reimbursement, billing and insurance documents. You'll also know how to use medical information software applications to organize healthcare data, and you'll be prepared to perform other administrative functions in a medical environment.
Typical courses in a program include medical terminology, health informatics, pharmacology, medical coding, computer applications, electronic health records, health care management law, statistics and reimbursement methods. You're also required to complete a professional externship, which is an in-person practical experience; this even holds true for online programs. In an online program, you work with your school to select an acceptable local health care facility for your externship.
What Is the Job Outlook?
According to the BLS, employment for medical records and health information technicians was projected to increase by 20% from 2008-2018. This is much faster than the national average for all occupations. According to PayScale.com in July 2011, most medical records and health information technicians earned from $20,565-$39,595 yearly.
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