Why Earn a HIM Health Information Management Degree

With the growth of so many healthcare jobs in the US in the 21st century, many management and administration professionals choose to work in health information management.

The proper management of patient health information is so important to effective health care today. There is a huge amount of health information that must be properly stored, administered and managed in every health care facility, including patient data about symptoms, diagnoses, outcomes, prescriptions and outcomes. The proper recording and storage of health information includes:

  • Lab results
  • Clinical data
  • X-rays
  • Patient histories
  • Medical professional notes and observations

The proper handling of this information is known in the industry as health information management or HIM. It is officially defined by the American Health Information Association or AHIMA as the practice of acquiring, analyzing and protecting paper based and digital medical information that is vital to provide good patient care.

HIM professionals earn a health information management degree so that they have the training to handle the newest information management technology applications. They are able to grasp the workflow in any healthcare provider facility ranging from large hospital systems to an individual doctor practice. HIM professionals with either a bachelor’s or master’s in the field are critical to the proper daily management of health data and electronic health records (EHRs).

Career Paths in Health Information Management

Earning your bachelor’s or master’s in HIM will serve you well as there are numerous excellent job opportunities in this booming healthcare field.

Health Information Manager or Technicians

One of the most popular positions for health information management graduates is health information managers.

Every time a health care professional treats a new or existing patient, they must record everything that occurs during the visit. This includes what they observe and what the patient was given medically. The record will include information that the patient gives the doctor. Also carefully recorded are results of medical exams, x-rays, lab tests, diagnoses and plans for treatment.

Health information management professionals have been highly trained in the newest information management technology applicants so that they ensure that the health information for patients is complete, accurate and completely secure from any illegal access.

The great growth in the use of EHRs will make the job of health information manager much more important in the next decade.

This field will see 15% growth by 2024, so there will be many jobs available for the foreseeable future.

Medical and Health Services Managers

This upper level management position is often called healthcare administrator or healthcare executive. This highly skilled healthcare administrative professional is in charge of planning and coordinating all medical and health services in an organization.

A healthcare administrator can be responsible for managing the entire medical facility, a certain clinical department or floor, or an entire doctor group practice.

You will need to have advanced skills in the proper handling of electronic and paper medical information, and will also need to have the most recent knowledge of relevant health care laws and regulations.

This field is growing rapidly and will see 17% job growth by 2024, which is much faster than average.

Different Types of Health Information Management Degrees

You can earn one of the following types of health information management degrees to build your career:

Bachelor’s Level Degree Options

If you want to get a great jump start in a health information management career, a good choice is the Bachelor of Science at Southern New Hampshire University.

This four year, online bachelor’s degree will build your skills and will provide you with highly valuable experience. It is the best choice for those who are starting their foray into the health information field, and also for health information professionals with one to three years of professional experience.

You will learn the terminology, technology, and professional health management skills that you need for a prosperous career. You also will gain experience in a live healthcare setting in your area which is often a major advantage among your peers.

This HIM degree program is completely based upon the health information curriculum principles that were set by CAHIIM.

Some of what you will learn in this accredited program include:

  • How to apply health data structure, regulations and standards to properly manage clinical classifications and reimbursement.
  • How to conduct proper analysis of the risks, managements, and uses of health statistics and research data to support performance improvement programs
  • How to properly implement and manage software and hardware to ensure that data is collected and stored properly
  • Use correct and current management principles to offer solutions and develop top quality project management plans that will be used to solve organizational challenges for many healthcare companies

Required courses are:

  • Professional Practical Experience
  • Communication and Technologies I and II
  • Medical Terminology
  • Healthcare Delivery Systems
  • Healthcare Reimbursement
  • Coding and Classification Systems
  • Healthcare Data Management

Master’s Level Degree Options

For those with their bachelor’s degree already and/or advanced experience in this field, you may want to earn your Master of Health Information Management from Texas State University. This is a fully online program that will offer both emerging and current content pertaining to the rapidly changing health information management field, given the increasing reliance on electronic patient information.

HIM professionals in this two year, accredited program will be trained in the most up to date information management technology tools. They also will understand the advanced workflow in various health care organizations from major hospital systems to doctor’s offices.

This is a 36 hour program that has 30 hours of core HIM classes and six hours of electives. Students who take electives in HIM Informatics, Computer Information Systems and Health Information will allow you to craft your curriculum to specific career goals.

Major areas of study include health data content standards and structure; data security; EHRs throughout the healthcare system; informatics and data use; health care finance and quality improvement.

Your required classes are as follows:

  • Contemporary Leadership Principles for HIM
  • HIM 5351 Data Security, Privacy, Confidentiality
  • HIM 5363 Health Data Content Structure and Standards
  • HIM 5311 Informatics, Analytics, and Data Use
  • HIM 5370 Healthcare Finance and Revenue Cycle Management
  • HIM 5320 Research Methods
  • HIM 5341 Healthcare Terminologies and Vocabularies (elective)
  • HIM 5342 Information Systems and Technology

Accreditation

It is important to consider the matter of program accreditation for your bachelor’s or master’s program. In the health information management field, the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management (CAHIIM) is the most respected organization for accrediting these programs.

If you ensure that your program is accredited by the CAHIIM, you will be able to feel confident that the program has the highest standards. This accreditation will reassure employers that your online degree is of great value.

Summary

The health information management field is growing very quickly because of the rapid growth overall of the healthcare system in the United States. Healthcare industry job growth is poised to increase by a huge 19% by 2024.

This rapid growth will ensure that health care managers and health care information managers will be needed to manage all of the patient data that this growth spurt will produce. Health information management professionals with a bachelor’s or master’s will be certain to have their pick of enticing employment opportunities.

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