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Medical Records and Health Information Technicians

Compile, process, and maintain medical records of hospital and clinic patients in a manner consistent with medical, administrative, ethical, legal, and regulatory requirements of the health care system. Process, maintain, compile, and report patient information for health requirements and standards in a manner consistent with the healthcare industry's numerical coding system.

Source: O*Net Online


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What do Medical Records and Health Information Technicians do?

  • Assign the patient to diagnosis-related groups (DRGs), using appropriate computer software.
  • Compile and maintain patients' medical records to document condition and treatment and to provide data for research or cost control and care improvement efforts.
  • Compile medical care and census data for statistical reports on diseases treated, surgery performed, or use of hospital beds.
  • Consult classification manuals to locate information about disease processes.
  • Develop in-service educational materials.
  • Enter data, such as demographic characteristics, history and extent of disease, diagnostic procedures, or treatment into computer.
  • Identify, compile, abstract, and code patient data, using standard classification systems.
  • Manage the department or supervise clerical workers, directing or controlling activities of personnel in the medical records department.
  • Plan, develop, maintain, or operate a variety of health record indexes or storage and retrieval systems to collect, classify, store, or analyze information.
  • Post medical insurance billings.
  • Prepare statistical reports, narrative reports, or graphic presentations of information, such as tumor registry data for use by hospital staff, researchers, or other users.
  • Process and prepare business or government forms.
  • Process patient admission or discharge documents.
  • Protect the security of medical records to ensure that confidentiality is maintained.
  • Release information to persons or agencies according to regulations.
  • Resolve or clarify codes or diagnoses with conflicting, missing, or unclear information by consulting with doctors or others or by participating in the coding team's regular meetings.
  • Retrieve patient medical records for physicians, technicians, or other medical personnel.
  • Review records for completeness, accuracy, and compliance with regulations.
  • Train medical records staff.
  • Transcribe medical reports.

Source: Career OneStop


Work conditions

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

Source: NIH LifeWorks


Education requirements

Medical records and health information 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 training. Applicants can improve their chances of admission into a program by taking biology, chemistry, health, and computer science courses in high school.

Most employers prefer to hire Registered Health Information Technicians (RHITs), who must pass a written examination offered by American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). Experienced medical records and health information technicians usually advance in one of two ways?by specializing or managing. Many senior technicians specialize in coding, particularly Medicare coding, or in tumor registry. 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 assistant director of a medical records and health information department in a small facility.

Source: NIH LifeWorks


Licensing requirements

Most employers prefer to hire RHITs, who must pass a written examination offered by AHIMA. To take the examination, a person must graduate from a 2-year associate degree program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) of the American Medical Association. Technicians trained in non-CAAHEP accredited programs, or on the job, are not eligible to take the examination. In 2007, CAAHEP accredited 245 programs for health information technicians. Technicians who specialize in coding may also obtain voluntary certification.

Source: NIH LifeWorks


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Stats for Medical Records and Health Information Technicians in Hawaii

Statewide

Total employment:

~ 480

Average annual openings, 2008-2018 (projected):

~ 20 per year

Median annual salary:

$37,920  ($33,300-$50,210)

Median hourly wage:

$18.23  ($16.01-$24.14)

In Honolulu / Oahu

Total employment:

~ 550

Average annual openings, 2010-2020 (projected):

~ 20 per year

Median annual salary:

$38,920  ($34,210-$52,760)

Median hourly wage:

$18.71  ($16.45-$25.37)

In Hawaii County

Total employment:

~ 50

Average annual openings, 2010-2020 (projected):

(no data)

Median annual salary:

$36,230

In Maui County

Total employment:

~ 30

Average annual openings, 2010-2020 (projected):

(no data)

Median annual salary:

$31,540

In Kauai County

Total employment:

~ 40

Average annual openings, 2010-2020 (projected):

(no data)

Median annual salary:

$31,870

State and county data sources:
hiwi.org (updated July 2012)
bls.gov (updated May 2011)