There are a variety of different career opportunities that you can pursue if you want to work in the healthcare field. This exciting industry gives you the chance to touch the lives of patients personally, helping people receive the best possible care.
One interesting field that might spark your interest is health information management (HIM).
What Is Health Information Management?
Modern healthcare requires the creation, storage, and maintenance of increasingly enormous amounts of data to record patient symptoms, demographics, outcomes, and more. Using this data, healthcare providers can improve the level of care they offer their patients.
Health information management plays a critical role in the healthcare field, working directly with this data at the intersection of data and healthcare. If this sounds like an interesting field, here is what you need to know:
What Does a Health Information Manager Do?
A Health information manager will call upon skills across various specialties, including administration, IT, data tracking and analysis, and healthcare. The information these professionals collect comes from several different areas. For example, they collect and track data related to areas such as:
- Test results
- Medical histories
Health information managers keep this information secure and organized, allowing healthcare providers to access vital patient information quickly and easily. Health information managers can play a particularly important role when providers need to manage traditional paper records and digital medical records and transition from older analog systems to new, digital ones.
Those who enter this field will work with medical staff across a variety of capacities and sectors. Their work with medical records helps facilities maintain compliance regarding private patient data.
What Skills Does a Health Information Manager Need?
A health information manager must focus on cultivating a few key skills to succeed in the role. Here are a few of the most important traits that you will want to cultivate:
Health information managers work extensively with data. Therefore, analytical skills help professionals think critically about the information they encounter and understand how to analyze and apply new information.
Those in the HIM field also need the technical skills related to the job to perform well. For example, those working with medical billing need to be fluent in medical billing and diagnosis codes and abbreviations.
In health information management, professionals work on projects with various parts. Understanding how to pace projects, designate responsibilities, and keep a team moving successfully toward completion will play an important role for professionals in this field.
HIM professionals also work extensively with regulatory departments, ensuring that healthcare businesses understand the laws and privacy regulations that apply to them. Knowing how to work within these important laws and maintain data security will help professionals thrive.
In the HIM field, professionals must also be prepared to work extensively with other professionals. For example, they will work with healthcare providers as they collect patient data. They might also need to cooperate with others in health information management as they work on common patient files.
With others in the medical department counting on HIM professionals to track their patient data, strong communication skills will be essential.
In the health information management field, professionals will need to play an important role in making sure that proper rules and regulations are followed concerning healthcare privacy. Therefore, those who enter this field need to be prepared to take charge in these areas to protect their patients and their medical institutions.
Where Do Health Information Managers Work?
Those who become health information managers can work in a range of environments. Some of the most common businesses and sectors where these professionals might work include the following:
- Doctors’ offices
- Pharmaceutical firms
- Insurance companies
- Software companies
- Home health agencies
- Nursing homes
- Consulting firms
Health Information Management Careers
Professionals who have training and experience in HIM can pursue several different types of career paths. Here are a few of the most popular.
Health Information Manager
A health information manager is one of the first roles professionals may decide to pursue. These professionals deal directly with the data coming through a particular medical institution. They help to organize and manage this information so that other authorized users can access it.
A data analyst works with data and finds patterns and information within the numbers. Data analysts can work specifically with healthcare data and help medical facilities in a variety of different ways, such as understanding patient outcomes or patterns in community health.
A compliance officer works with the health information department of a medical facility. They are deeply familiar with the rules and regulations pertaining to this facility from the American Health Information Management Association and local laws and ensure that the laws are followed. They often advise business leaders on how to follow the regulations to ensure that patient privacy is maintained.
Clinical Documentation Specialist
A clinical documentation specialist will generally work with other specialists to organize and catalog their clinic’s patient information. They review medical records, verify medical codes, and work closely with the other members of the medical staff to gather the necessary information about each patient. They have to be very familiar with privacy regulations and any rules applicable to their clinic.
Clinical Systems Manager
A clinical systems manager helps medical facilities adapt to the use of technology as they treat patients. This professional may also have training in a specific medical field, such as nursing. They work on information technology within the broader medical context, managing the systems used in the medical facility, managing the updates and security of the systems, and integrating the various tools that can be used to collect and manage patient data.
Medical Research Manager
Medical research managers, also known as clinical research managers, help to collect and organize the data related specifically to clinical trials. These trials are used in all areas of the medical field to gauge the success of new medicines and treatments for different ailments. Research managers have to maintain strict confidentiality regarding the data they collect, help to oversee the trial, and analyze the information gathered to gauge the success of the new treatment or medicine.
Medical Records Technician
A medical records technician can also be referred to as a healthcare data analyst, health information specialist, or medical coder. This position focuses heavily on patient records and tracking diagnostic data.
A health information director will be in charge of running the health information management department. The director will work with the leaders of other departments within the medical facility and help them remain compliant with regulations. Professionals need to have considerable experience to reach this level within an organization.
HIM consultants advise others within medical facilities. They are often called in to help facilities find solutions regarding data and regulations or improve department management.
How Do I Become a Health Information Manager?
To become a health information manager, professionals need to have the training and experience needed to thrive in the field. This training can help you understand both the medical and IT sides of the job.
You can start by earning a bachelor’s degree in health information management. This type of degree will provide insight into how healthcare and data overlap. Those who want to further their education or those who did not focus on health information management during their undergraduate degree can take the next step and earn a master’s degree, such as the MBA in Healthcare Administration at UTC. More advanced degrees can help professionals who want to stand out from the competition when looking for jobs. It also can position you to advance further in your career, particularly if you eventually want to become a health information director.
While it is not required, many people interested in this field also find it helpful to pursue certification from the American Health Information Management Association, which offers a Registered Health Information Administrator certificate (RHIA). Some jobs will prefer or require candidates to have this certificate.
Remember that depending on where you pursue your career, you might also need other certifications or licenses. For example, those who work in a nursing home would need to have a specific license to work in this type of long-term care facility.
If you are interested in beginning your career in the health information management field, you can get started by visiting us at UTC. We are happy to answer your questions and get you started on the path toward your new professional future.