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Medical Records Technicians & Health Information Technicians

Medical Records Technicians, Health Information Technicians, and Coders

 Medical records technicians jobs are featured on this page including nature of work, working conditions, earnings, and job outlook. Medical records technicians and health information technicians are in demand and fast growing health care jobs. You will find links for information for medical records technicians and health information specialists, and additional material for related careers that are excerpted from the new 4th edition of Health Care Job Explosion! High Growth Health Care Careers and JOB LOCATOR by Dennis V. Damp. Medical records and health information technicians jobs are available in most health care facilities. Health Care Job Explosion also features over 1,400 career exploration and job vacancy resources.


 

MEDICAL RECORDS TECHNICIANS & HEALTH INFORMATION TECHNICIANS

RELATED OCCUPATIONS:


Medical records technicians and health information technicians need a strong clinical background to analyze the contents of medical records. Other workers who need knowledge of medical terminology, anatomy, and physiology but have little or no direct contact with patients include: 


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Significant Points

  • Employment is expected to grow much faster than average.
  • Job prospects should be very good; technicians with a strong background in medical coding will be in particularly high demand.
  • Entrants usually have an associate degree; courses include anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, statistics, and computer science. T
  • his is one of the few health occupations in which there is little or no direct contact with patients.
Source : Health Care Job Explosion!, Fourth Edition By Dennis V. Damp

 

Nature of the Work


Every time a patient receives health care, a record is maintained of the observations, medical or surgical interventions, and treatment out-comes. This record includes information that the patient provides concerning his or her symptoms and medical history, the results of examinations, reports of x-rays and laboratory tests, diagnoses, and treatment plans. Medical records technicians and health information technicians organize and evaluate these records for completeness and accuracy.


Technicians assemble patients’ health information. They make sure that patients’ initial medical charts are complete, that all forms are completed and properly identified and signed, and that all necessary information is in the computer. They regularly communicate with physicians and other health care professionals to clarify diagnoses or to obtain additional information.


Some medical records technicians and health information technicians specialize in coding patients’ medical information for insurance purposes. Technicians who specialize in coding are called health information coders, medical record coders, coder/abstractors, or coding specialists. These technicians assign a code to each diagnosis and procedure. They consult classification manuals and also rely on their knowledge of disease processes. Technicians then use computer software to assign the patient to one of several hundred "diagnosis-related groups," or DRGs. The DRG determines the amount for which the hospital will be reimbursed if the patient is covered by Medicare or other insurance programs using the DRG system. In addition to the DRG system, coders use other coding systems, such as those geared toward ambulatory settings or long-term care.

 

Some medical records technicians also use computer programs to tabulate and analyze data to improve patient care, control costs, provide documentation for use in legal actions, respond to surveys, or use in research studies. For example, cancer (or tumor) registrars maintain facility, regional, and national databases of cancer patients. Registrars review patient records and pathology reports, assign codes for the diagnosis and treatment of different cancers and selected benign tumors. Registrars conduct annual follow-ups on all patients in the registry to track their treatment, survival, and recovery. Physicians and public health organizations then use this information to calculate survivor rates and success rates of various types of treatment, locate geographic areas with high incidences of certain cancers, and identify potential participants for clinical drug trials. Cancer registry data also is used by public health officials to target areas for the allocation of resources to provide intervention and screening.


Medical records technicians' and health information technicians’ duties vary with the size of the facility where they work. In large to medium-sized facilities, technicians might specialize in one aspect of health information or might supervise health information clerks and transcriptionists while a medical records and health information administrator manages the department. In small facilities, a credentialed medical records and health information technician sometimes manages the department.

 

Working Conditions


Medical records technicians and health information technicians usually work a 40-hour week. Some overtime may be required. In hospitals—where health information departments often are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week—technicians may work day, evening, and night shifts.


Health information and medical records technicians work in pleasant and comfortable offices. This is one of the few health occupations in which there is little or no direct contact with patients. Because accuracy is essential in their jobs, medical records technicians must pay close attention to detail. Technicians who work at computer monitors for prolonged periods must guard against eyestrain and muscle pain.


Employment

 

Health information and medical records technicians held about 159,000 jobs in 2004. About 2 out of 5 jobs were in hospitals. The rest were mostly in offices of physicians, nursing care facilities, outpatient care centers, and home health care services. Insurance firms that deal in health matters employ a small number of health information technicians to tabulate and analyze health information. Public health departments also hire technicians to supervise data collection from health care institutions and to assist in research.

Source : Health Care Job Explosion!, Fourth Edition By Dennis V. Damp


Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement

Online Health Care Degree & Certificate Programs

Health information and medical records technicians entering the field usually have an associate degree from a community or junior college. In addition to general education, coursework includes medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, legal aspects of health information, coding and abstraction of data, statistics, database management, quality improvement methods, and computer science. Applicants can improve their chances of admission into a program by taking biology, chemistry, health, and computer science courses in high school.


Hospitals sometimes advance promising health information clerks to jobs as medical records and health information technicians, although this practice may be less common in the future. Advancement usually re-quires 2 to 4 years of job experience and completion of a hospital’s in-house training program.

Scholarships / Tuition Help

Most employers prefer to hire Registered Health Information Technicians (RHIT), who must pass a written examination offered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). To take the examination, a person must graduate from a 2-year associate degree program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). Technicians trained in non-CAHIIM-accredited programs or trained on the job are not eligible to take the examination. In 2005, CAHIIM ac-credited 184 programs for health information technicians.


Experienced health information and medical records technicians usually advance in one of two ways—by specializing or managing. Many senior technicians specialize in coding, particularly Medicare coding, or in cancer registry. Most coding and registry skills are learned on the job. Some schools offer certificates in coding as part of the associate degree program for health information technicians, although there are no formal degree programs in coding. For cancer registry, there were 11 formal 2-year certificate programs in 2005 approved by the National Cancer Registrars Association (NCRA). Some schools and employers offer intensive 1- to 2-week training programs in either coding or cancer registry. Once coders and registrars gain some on-the-job experience, many choose to become certified. Certifications in coding are available either from AHIMA or from the American Academy of Professional Coders. Certification in cancer registry is available from the NCRA.

 

In large, medical records and health information departments, experienced technicians may advance to section supervisor, overseeing the work of the coding, correspondence, or discharge sections, for example. Senior technicians with RHIT credentials may become director or assist-ant director of a medical records and health information department in a small facility. However, in larger institutions, the director usually is an administrator with a bachelor’s degree in medical records and health information administration.

Source : Health Care Job Explosion!, Fourth Edition By Dennis V. Damp


Job Outlook

 

For job outlook review a copy of the all new 4th edition of Health Care Job Explosion!.


Earnings


For earnings outlook review a copy of the all new 4th edition of Health Care Job Explosion!.

 


 

Resources (Partial Listing)

 

There are 58 total resources presented in the paperback version of Health Care Job Explosion! 4th edition by Dennis V. Damp for home health care and medical information technicians. Resources include Job Ads, Job Hotlines, Job Fairs, Placement services, Associations, Books, Directories and Internet (Web) Sites. Your local library may have this book in their reference section or you can purchase a copy for $19.95 plus shipping with all major credit cards from our toll free service at 1-800-782-7424 (Orders Only).


Alliance of Claims Assistance Professionals (ACAP) - 873 Brentwood Drive, West Chicago, IL 60185-3743. (http://www.claims.org/, askacap@charter.net).


American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) - 2480 South 3850 West, Suite B, Salt Lake City, Utah 84120; 800/626-CODE. (http://www.aapc.com/, info@aapc.com) Certification and extensive information for Coders, Office Managers, Claims Exam-iners, Hospital Outpatient Coders, Experienced Reimbursement Specialists and Coding Educators. The web site job ad section lets you post your résumé and receive job alerts by e-mail.


American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) - 233 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 2150, Chicago, IL 60611-5800; 312/233-1100. (http://www.ahima.org , info@ahima.org) AHIMA provides brochures for those considering entering the health information management (HIM) profession. Web site has information on careers (including a career counselor), a job bank, financial aid, certification, schools, independent study and state associations.


Medical Records Institute - 425 Boylston Street, 4th Floor, Boston, Massachusetts 02116; 617/964-3923. This organization’s web site (http://www.medrecinst.com, cust_service@medrecinst.com) promotes electronic health records, mobile health, and related applications.


Resume Writing Service -  Professionally package your health care resume for entry level, standard, and executive positions.

 


 

Other Occupations

 

The following health technician occupations are featured in the all new 4th edition of Health Care Job Explosion!.  Your local library may have this book in their reference section or you can purchase a copy for $19.95 plus $4.95 shipping with all major credit cards from our toll free service at 1-800-782-7424 (Orders Only). This book is also available at all major bookstores.

Medical Records Technicians, Health Information Technicians, and Coders