Health information technology is indeed a career path for many students. Electronic medical records are the present and future of the healthcare industry, and doctors and other medical professionals need qualified workers to manage those records.
Health information technology workers are charged with maintaining electronic health records (EHRs). Their job is a very important one in the healthcare field. If records are lost, improperly kept or stored, or not accurately recorded, it can be harmful to the practice and, more importantly, can be detrimental to the health of the patient.
For example, if a doctor is not aware of an existing medical condition, they can prescribe drugs whose side effects may include exacerbating that condition. Alternatively, allergies to certain drugs, and other patient history items left off of the records can lead to a serious condition. It is important, therefore, to find an educated, experienced, qualified worker in health information technology to keep and maintain the records.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics outlines the main job duties of a medical records and health information technician, which is one of the chief job titles for someone who studies health information technology. Those duties are as follows:
- Review patient records for timeliness, completeness, accuracy, and appropriateness of data
- Organize and maintain data for clinical databases and registries
- Track patient outcomes for quality assessment
- Use classification software to assign clinical codes for reimbursement and data analysis
- Electronically record data for collection, storage, analysis, retrieval, and reporting
- Protect patients’ health information for confidentiality, authorized access for treatment, and data security
It’s important to note that while those in health information technology do not provide patient care directly. However, they do often work closely with registered nurses and other health workers, in order to clarify diagnoses and to get additional information. This helps them ensure that the medical records they are working with are captured accurately and completely.
Health information technology occupations
In addition to medical records and health information technician, there are some other occupations that allow those in health information technology to work in the healthcare field. These jobs give those in health information technology a little occupational flexibility and allow them to take positions that give them the opportunity to branch out professionally.
Medical coders is one such profession. Medical coders review patient information for preexisting conditions, retrieve patient records for medical personnel, and act as a liaison between the billing offices and the clinician.
Another position is cancer registrar. In this job, workers review records and pathology reports to ensure they are complete and accurate, they assign classification codes that represents the cancer diagnosis and the treatment of both cancers and benign tumors. In addition, they often conduct follow-ups on an annual basis, which allows them to track treatment, survival rates and recovery. Finally, cancer registrars analyze cancer patient data and compiles it for research purposes.
Make no mistake: the healthcare field is booming, and there are job opportunities to those who have the proper training and education. Health information technology is one field of many in this industry where employment growth is expected to exceed the average for all occupations by 2022. This growth creates both opportunity and competition, as additional health information technology schools will likely open (or current schools expanded) to meet the industry’s demand for more workers.
You can be one of those workers, if you have an interest and a knack for health information technology and the skills it uses. An exacting attention to detail, sharp analytical skills, interpersonal skills, technical skills, and a strong sense of integrity are all important in health information technology.
Analytical skills allow health information technology workers to understand and follow diagnoses and decide how to code them properly. Being detail oriented means they will be more likely to offer complete, accurate recordkeeping and coding. Interpersonal skills are necessary to hold conversations in a professional environment with co-workers and others who may be around and interacting with them. Technical skills allow health information technology workers to use the technology involved in the job, and integrity promotes honesty and adherence to health information technology rules and regulations.