Medical records and health information technicians are also known as medical records clerks, health information clerks, medical records coordinators and medical file clerks. Their job duties typically include reviewing records for completeness and accuracy, and complying with regulations. They also retrieve patient medical records for medical personnel and release them to other healthcare facilities or agencies, according to regulations.
Technicians may plan and maintain methods of records storage and retrieval, as well as efficient ways to classify and analyze information. They enter into computer programs such data as a patient’s history, demographic information and treatment. Other important duties of this occupation are processing government forms accurately and maintaining accurate and complete patient records.
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Medical records and health information technicians communicate often with physicians and other healthcare professionals. Some specialize in codifying patient information for insurance reimbursement. Others may specialize in cancer registry, maintaining local, regional and national databases of cancer patients.
Medical Clerks Job Summary
- The majority of medical records and health information technicians are employed by hospitals and physicians’ offices.
- Job prospects for technicians, especially those with strong computer skills, should be very good.
- Most entry-level positions require an associate’s degree.
- The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts job growth in this field will be much faster than the average in coming years.
Work Environment for Medical records and health information technicians
Medical records and health information technicians usually work in clean and pleasant offices. This is one of the few healthcare industry jobs with no direct patient care. Physical activity is not usually required. Most full-time medical records and health information technicians work 40 hours per week; overtime may be required. When employed by 24-hour facilities, technicians may be required to work evening, weekend or night shifts. About 14 percent of technicians worked part time in 2008, according to the BLS.
Education, Training and Licensing
Entry-level medical records and health information technician jobs typically require an associate’s degree; some employers prefer to hire candidates with some work experience. Community, technical and junior colleges may offer two-year associate’s degree programs. Coursework often includes data analysis, anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, database security and management and quality healthcare reimbursement methods. Admission into a degree program can be eased by taking high school health, chemistry, math, biology and computer science courses.
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Many employers prefer to hire medical records and health information technicians with credentials awarded by a national credentialing organization. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers Registered Health Information Technicians (RHIT) credentialing, which requires graduation from an accredited two-year program and passing an exam. Coding credentials are offered by the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), the Board of Medical Specialty Coding (BMSC) and the Professional Association of Healthcare Coding Specialists (PAHCS). To maintain credentials, regular recertification and continuing education is often required.
Individuals interested in a career as a medical records or health information technician should possess excellent communication skills and proficiency with computer software. A commitment to lifelong learning is a valuable asset, since continuing education is an important aspect of this occupation.
Medical Records Clerk Jobs Outlook and Earnings
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) records indicate that medical records and health information technicians held approximately 170,580 jobs in May 2009; most were in hospitals and physicians’ offices, while others were in nursing and outpatient care facilities.
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The BLS predicts employment in this field will grow much faster than the average for all occupations. Job growth will occur as the result of increased demand for medical tests, treatments and procedures, as well as a growing population’s need for healthcare services.
How much do medical clerks earn? The BLS reports that medical records and health information technicians earned a median yearly salary of $31,290 in May 2009. The middle 50% earned between $24,870 and $40,540, while the lowest 10% earned about $20,850. The highest 10% earned upwards of $51,510 annually.