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.
What Are Some Specifics About Health Information Management Associate's Degree Programs?
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.
|Program Length||2 years to complete 64-71 credit hours|
|Common Courses||Electronic health records, medical terminology, reimbursement methods, health informatics, health care management law|
|Finding a Program||Accredited programs are listed with the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education and the National Center of Education Statistics|
|Career Requirements||Health information management technicians typically have associate's degrees; this degree is required for RHIT certification|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)||13% growth (for medical records and health information technicians)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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 400 schools that offer associate's degree programs in health information (www.nces.ed.gov).
Do I Need an Associate's Degree?
In March 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that health information management technicians often 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).
What Is the Job Outlook?
According to the BLS, employment for medical records and health information technicians was projected to increase by 13% from 2016-2026. This is faster than the national average for all occupations. According to the BLS, in May of 2018 most medical records and health information technicians earned a median yearly salary of $40,350.