What is Health Information Management?
The role of a Health Information Management (HIM) professional is more important than you may initially think. They are essential to making sure your healthcare experience – from your doctor’s appointment or hospital visit through your insurance claim – goes smoothly.
People in HIM are tasked with collecting, analyzing, storing, protecting and ensuring the quality of patient health information. This information can be either paper-based, a combination of paper and digital (hybrid) or as is more often the case, a fully electronic health record (EHR). HIM professionals are using advanced technology as they perform most HIM-related functions. The HIM professional must have a wide range of knowledge, including HIPAA laws that protect patient privacy, data analysis and how to harness computer systems that collect data.
Patient care is not for me!
If working in the healthcare field is appealing to you, but you do not necessarily want to provide hands-on patient care, check out HIM. While HIM professionals might interact with physicians, patients and insurance companies, their focus will be on ensuring that health information collected in the course of patient care is appropriately maintained according to set standards, legal requirements and policies and procedures of the healthcare organization.
Healthcare jobs are in demand
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, healthcare is a rapidly growing job sector. In fact, employment in the healthcare industry is projected to grow 19 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Healthcare offers many different job opportunities and it is never boring or stationary – it is continuously evolving. The proliferation of technology in healthcare makes HIM an exciting career choice.
Where do HIM professionals work?
HIM offers a choice of many career paths – from technical work to overseeing an entire HIM department – in a variety of settings. HIM professionals are employed by hospitals, physician offices, surgery centers, long-term care facilities, consulting firms, government agencies and even insurance companies. With a HIM degree, employment opportunities can include data analysis, HIPAA privacy, medical coding, compliance, clinical documentation as well as HIM management. In fact, HIM professionals can obtain professional credentials such as Registered Health Information Administrators (RHIA), who often hold leadership positions such as HIM directors or managers and Registered Health Information Technicians (RHIT), who often hold technical jobs and specialize in medical coding, cancer/disease registry and supervisory positions.
Also, the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers specialty credentials in data analysis, documentation improvement, medical coding and privacy.
How can I prepare for a career in HIM?
The HIM degree programs at Herzing University provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the management of medical information. For example, every HIM-related program offers students access to state-of-the-art virtual labs and a variety of health information management systems actually used in healthcare organizations.
There are several options, including completely online, in completing an HIM-related program:
- Bachelor of Science in HIM can be completed in a little as 36 months
- Diploma in Insurance Billing and Coding can be completed in 12 months.
- Associate and Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Management can be completed in 20 months
- Associate and Associate of Applied Science in Insurance Billing and Coding can be completed in 20 months
Most Herzing students will fulfill a capstone project in partnership with their internship at a healthcare organization to put into practice what they’ve learned. It will be supervised by a current RHIT- or RHIA-certified employee.
More now than ever, HIM professionals are vital to delivering quality patient care. Learn more about our HIM program here.
Stephanie Scott has more than 25 years of experience in healthcare and HIM related roles. Her bachelor’s degree is in Health Information Management and her Master's of Science degree is in Health Informatics. For the last ten years, she has been teaching as either full-time faculty or adjunct staff for both HIM and Medical Coding programs.