Health information management professionals study the principles and practices of acquiring, analyzing, maintaining, releasing and protecting medical information vital to providing quality patient care. These professionals are linked to physicians, technology designers and information technology. They play an essential role bridging patients’ health information and payors, such as insurance companies, government and regulating agencies, and are a critical component of the electronic health record (EHR) workforce.
There are two levels of Health information management professionals. Health Information Technicians (HIT) work in healthcare; however, they do not generally work directly with patients. A Health Information Technician (HIT) assembles patient health information including medical history, symptoms, examination results, diagnostic tests, treatment methods, and all other healthcare provider services. They organize and manage health information data by ensuring its quality, accuracy, accessibility and security. They may work as medical coders who specialize in coding patient information for reimbursement purposes. They communicate with physicians and other healthcare professionals to clarify diagnoses or to obtain additional information. Entry-level health information technicians usually have an associate degree with a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) credential.
The Health Information Manager (HIM) has a baccalaureate degree with a Registered Health Information Management (RHIM) credential. These individuals function in management positions, responsible for ensuring the availability, accuracy and protection of the clinical information that is needed to deliver health care services and to make appropriate healthcare related decisions. They also design, implement and maintain health information technology systems.
- Strong ethical principles
- Adhere to patient confidentiality guidelines
- Detail oriented
- Ability to work independently
- Adopt lifelong learning
- Computer literate
- Stellar work ethic
- Ability to sit for prolonged periods of time
- Analytical thinking skills
- Excellent communication skills – both written and verbal
Types of Work Environment
- Physician Offices
- Long Term Care facilities
- Insurance Companies
- Correctional Facilities
- Mental Health Facilities
- IT Companies
- Law Offices
- Two year degree
- General overview of the profession – technical focus
- Traditional classroom and distance learning available
- Evening programs available
- Obtain RHIT (Registered Health Information Technician) credential after successfully passing national exam
- Requirement of 20 continuing education units every 2 years
- Four year degree
- Two years of general education courses, entering professional coursework in junior year – management focus
- Traditional classroom and distance learning available
- Some RHIT to RHIA programs available
- Obtain RHIA (Registered Health Information Administrator) credential after successfully passing national exam
- Requirement of 30 continuing education units every 2 years
The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) is the premier association of HIM professionals. AHIMA's more than 53,000 members are dedicated to the effective management of personal health information required to deliver quality healthcare to the public. Founded in 1928 to improve the quality of medical records, AHIMA is committed to advancing the HIM profession in an increasingly electronic and global environment through leadership in advocacy, education, certification, and lifelong learning.
$24,290 and $39,490
US Department of Labor
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Occupational Outlook Handbook,
$25,350 and $33,721
Meet a Professional: Jill
What interested you in the HIM field?
I decided to go back to college when my youngest child was starting high school. I took the time to do some research on different career choices that were anticipating future growth. I had always been interested in the medical field but I knew that nursing was not for me. The HIM field appeared to be a good fit for my interests and talents. I found out that Tri-C offered a Health Information Management program. A major factor in choosing the HIM program was the vast array of career choices and opportunities available within this field. With an HIM degree I wouldn’t be locked into only one career path.
Why did you choose to work at the Cleveland Clinic?
I started at the Cleveland Clinic as a coder trainee right out of college. Being a new graduate, I wanted a job where I could get a wide variety of coding experience in a supportive learning environment. With the Clinic being such a large medical facility, I also felt that it would offer future opportunities for advancement.
Any future plans for education?
I am currently studying for an additional HIM credential, the CCS, Certified Coding Specialist, and I am planning on taking the exam soon. Eventually, I would like to go back to school and earn my bachelor’s degree.
What attributes should a student possess for a career in HIM?
One needs to be detail oriented, have critical thinking skills and a strong knowledge of anatomy and medical terminology. The ability to follow official HIM guidelines and government regulations as well as strict adherence to a code of ethics is also necessary. I like to think that I treat patients’ personal health information with the same degree of integrity and privacy as if it were my own.
What are the perks of your position as a coder?
Because I am not directly involved in patient care, I am able to have a flexible work schedule. This is a wonderful benefit. I enjoy working independently and can honestly say that my job is always interesting and never boring. I also have on-the-job opportunities for continuing education.