Medical Records and Health Information Technicians

Career, Salary and Education Information

Top 3 Medical Record Technician Jobs

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Top 3 Health Information Technician Jobs

  • Senior Health Information Technician - HIM - Full Time 8 Hour Days - Keck Medicine of USC - Los Angeles, CA

    Provide Clerical and analysis support to the Health Information Management

  • Allergy Technician - Full Time - Watson Clinic - Lakeland, FL

    Identifies patient and family education needs and provides instruction. • Recognizes and responds to emergency situations as appropriate

  • Hardware Technician - Acellent Technologies - Sunnyvale, CA

    Tasks include: Soldering Cable Making Hardware Testing Hardware Debugging Flex PCB Manufacturing Shipping (Domestic and International

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What Medical Records and Health Information Technicians Do[About this section] [To Top]

Medical records and health information technicians, commonly referred to as health information technicians, organize and manage health information data by ensuring that it maintains its quality, accuracy, accessibility, and security in both paper files and electronic systems. They use various classification systems to code and categorize patient information for insurance reimbursement purposes, for databases and registries, and to maintain patients’ medical and treatment histories.

Duties of Medical Records and Health Information Technicians

Health information technicians typically do the following:

  • Review patients’ 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
  • Maintain confidentiality of patients’ records

Health information technicians document patients’ health information, including their medical history, symptoms, examination and test results, treatments, and other information about healthcare services that are provided to patients. Their duties vary by employer and by the size of the facility in which they work.

Although health information technicians do not provide direct patient care, they work regularly with registered nurses and other healthcare professionals. They meet with these workers to clarify diagnoses or to get additional information to make sure that records are complete and accurate.

The increasing adaptation and use of electronic health records (EHRs) will continue to change the job responsibilities of health information technicians. Technicians will need to be familiar with, or be able to learn, EHR computer software, follow EHR security and privacy practices, and analyze electronic data to improve healthcare information, as more healthcare providers and hospitals adopt EHR systems.

Health information technicians can specialize in many aspects of health information. Some work as medical coders, sometimes called coding specialists, or as cancer registrars.

Medical coders typically do the following:

  • Review patient information for preexisting conditions, such as diabetes
  • Assign appropriate diagnoses and procedure codes for patient care, population health statistics, and billing purposes
  • Work as a liaison between the health clinician and billing offices

Cancer registrars typically do the following:

  • Review patients’ records and pathology reports to verify completeness and accuracy
  • Assign classification codes to represent the diagnosis and treatment of cancers and benign tumors
  • Conduct annual followups to track treatment, survival, and recovery
  • Compile and analyze cancer patient information for research purposes
  • Maintain facility, regional, and national databases of cancer patients

Work Environment for Medical Records and Health Information Technicians[About this section] [To Top]

Medical records and health information technicians hold about 188,600 jobs. The industries that employ the most medical records and health information technicians are as follows:

Hospitals; state, local, and private 38%
Offices of physicians 21
Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities) 7
Administrative and support services 6
Professional, scientific, and technical services 5

More than half work in hospitals or physicians’ offices, and most others work in various healthcare settings. Technicians typically work in offices and may spend many hours in front of computer monitors. Some technicians may work from home.

Medical Records and Health Information Technician Work Schedules

Most health information technicians work full time. In healthcare facilities that are always open, such as hospitals, technicians may work evening or overnight shifts.

How to Become a Medical Records or Health Information Technician[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Medical Records and Health Information Technicians near you!

Health information technicians typically need a postsecondary certificate to enter the occupation, although some may need an associate’s degree. Certification is often required.

Medical Records and Health Information Technician Education

Postsecondary certificate and associate’s degree programs in health information technology typically include courses in medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, health data requirements and standards, classification and coding systems, healthcare reimbursement methods, healthcare statistics, and computer systems. Applicants to health information technology programs may increase their chances of admission by taking high school courses in health, computer science, math, and biology.

A high school diploma or equivalent and previous experience in a healthcare setting are enough to qualify for some positions, but most jobs for health information technicians require postsecondary education.

Important Qualities for Medical Records and Health Information Technicians

Analytical skills. Health information technicians must be able to understand and follow medical records and diagnoses, and then decide how best to code them in a patient’s medical records.

Detail oriented. Health information technicians must be accurate when recording and coding patient information.

Integrity. Health information technicians work with patient data that are required, by law, to be kept confidential. They must exercise caution and a strong sense of ethics when working with this information in order to protect patient confidentiality.

Interpersonal skills. Health information technicians need to be able to discuss patient information, discrepancies, and data requirements with other professionals such as physicians and finance personnel.

Technical skills. Health information technicians must be able to use coding and classification software and the electronic health record (EHR) system that their healthcare organization or physician practice has adopted.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Most employers prefer to hire health information technicians who have certification, or they may expect applicants to earn certification shortly after being hired. A health information technician can earn certification from several organizations. Certifications include the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) and the Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR), among others.

Some organizations base certification on passing an exam. Others require graduation from an accredited program. Many coding certifications also require coding experience in a work setting. Once certified, technicians typically must renew their certification regularly and take continuing education courses.

A few states and facilities require cancer registrars to be licensed. Licensure requires the completion of a formal education program and the Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR) certification.

Advancement for Medical Records and Health Information Technicians

Health information technicians may advance to other health information positions by receiving additional education and certifications. Technicians may be able to advance to a position as a medical or health services manager after completing a bachelor’s or master’s degree program and taking the required certification courses. Requirements vary by facility.

Medical Records and Health Information Technician Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for medical records and health information technicians is $37,110. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $24,190, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $61,400.

The median annual wages for medical records and health information technicians in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Professional, scientific, and technical services $40,790
Hospitals; state, local, and private 39,570
Administrative and support services 36,630
Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities) 35,270
Offices of physicians 32,080

Most health information technicians work full time. In healthcare facilities that are always open, such as hospitals, technicians may work evening or overnight shifts.

Job Outlook for Medical Records and Health Information Technicians[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of health information technicians is projected to grow 15 percent over the next ten years, much faster than the average for all occupations.

An aging population will require more medical services, and health information technicians will be needed to organize and manage the older generations’ health information data. Moreover, the number of individuals who have access to health insurance is expected to continue to increase because of federal health insurance reform.

This will mean more claims for reimbursement from insurance companies.

Additional records, coupled with widespread use of electronic health records (EHRs) by all types of healthcare providers, will lead to an increased need for technicians to organize and manage the associated information in all areas of the healthcare industry.

Cancer registrars are expected to continue to be in high demand. As the population ages, there will likely be more types of special purpose registries because many illnesses are detected and treated later in life.

Medical Records and Health Information Technicians Job Prospects

Prospects will be best for those with a certification in health information, such as the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) or the Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR). As EHR systems continue to become more common, health information technicians with computer skills will be needed to use them.

Employment projections data for Medical Records and Health Information Technicians, 2014-24
Occupational Title Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24
Percent Numeric
Medical records and health information technicians 188,600 217,600 15 29,000


*Some content used by permission of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

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