If you like analyzing data and handling information, then a career as a Medical Records Technician and health information technician may be for you. This is an office job that requires you to record and maintain records of patient treatments. This information is then used for insurance billing, patient treatment, and in databases and registries. Some of the tasks a person in this occupation would do include:
- Maintain data security
- Obtain, organize, and manage data for medical registries and databases
- Assign codes to procedures for data analysis and insurance billing
- Analyze medical records to ensure they are complete, accurate, and appropriate
- Follow up on patient treatment outcomes and clarify diagnosis with medical staff
Increasingly, medical facilities are using electronic health records (EHR) to maintain and share patient information. As a result, technicians in this field will need to know how to use EHR software, analyze electronic data, and implement and maintain security and privacy of patient data.
In addition to these duties, medical records and health information technicians may also do medical coding or specialize in cancer registry. Those duties include:
- Determining if a patient has preexisting conditions
- Obtaining medical records for the healthcare staff
- Working as a liaison between billing departments and clinicians
- Make sure patient records and pathology reports are accurate and complete
- Assign codes to the diagnoses and treatments of assorted cancers and tumors
- Follow up with patients on a yearly basis about treatment, recovery, and survival
- Gather together and analyze patient information for cancer research
- Maintain information of cancer patients for local, regional and national databases
Medical Records Technician Training
To get a job as a medical records and health information technician, most employers require you to have at least a certificate from an accredited program. These programs take about a year to complete. However, a lot of people in this field obtain associate’s degrees which are two-year programs. Both types of degrees can be earned at community colleges and technical schools.
Although this is not a traditional healthcare position, you must know medical terminology and be familiar with the human body to do the job. Some classes you will be required to pass to earn your degree include anatomy, medical terminology, physiology, coding systems, healthcare statistics, health data standards and requirements, and electronic health record systems. High school students interested in entering this career can prepare by taking courses in computer science, biology, health, and math.
States don’t require certification to enter the profession unless you are doing work as a cancer registrar. The specific requirements for this certification can be obtained by contacting the licensing department or medical board in your state. Employers, on the other hand, prefer to hire people who have professional certification credentials. There are several certifications you can obtain including the Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR) and Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) which can be obtained from the following professional organizations:
- American Health Information Management Association
- American Society of Health Informatics Managers
- Healthcare Information Management and Systems Society
- Commission on Accreditation of Health Informatics and Information Management Education
To sit for certification exams, you must complete an accredited educational program. Typically there is a fee. It is best to contact the organizations directly for their test-taking requirements.
Detail oriented: The information gathered will be used by medical staff, insurance companies, and researchers. It is important to be accurate when obtaining and recording patient data.
Interpersonal skills: Technicians work with healthcare staff, patients, and numerous other personnel to get the information they need to do their jobs. It is important to know how to handle people with courtesy and professionalism.
Analytical and critical thinking skills: In addition to being able to follow diagnoses and treatments, technicians will need to analyze the data to know how best to code or categorize the information.
Technical skills: Technicians use a variety of computer software to do their jobs. People pursuing jobs in this industry must be comfortable learning about and using technology.
Medical Records Technician Job Description
The largest employer of medical records and health information technicians was state and private hospitals (about 39%). Private physicians are the second largest employer (23%). Technicians are also employed by nursing care and home health care facilities. It is an office job requiring workers to sit at a desk in front of a computer for long stretches of time.
About 85% of Medical Records Technicians work full time while the remaining 15% work part time. Some facilities are open 24 hours a day and technicians may be required to work evening, overnight, and weekend shifts.
Medical Records Technician Salary
The average wage earned by people in this career field was $32,350. The top 10% earned $53,430 and the lowest 10% earned $21,240. The salary you will be paid in this job will depend on your education, experience, location, and employer. Hospitals tend to pay the highest. Your salary may be supplemented with other benefits such as paid vacations, paid sick leave, or health insurance.
In 2010, there were about 179,500 job opportunities for technicians. That number is expected to grow 21% by the year 2020. Like other healthcare jobs, an aging population is spurring the demand for medical records and health information technicians. As a person gets older, the need for medical tests, procedures, and treatments tend to increase. The number of special purpose registrars is also expected to increase requiring technicians to gather information to fill those databases. People with formal education, certification, and computer skills will be in high demand.