How to Become an Electronic Health Records Specialist

An electronic health records specialist is responsible for organizing and managing patient health information data by making sure that it is of high quality, accurate, accessible and secure in both electronic and paper formats. Electronic health records specialists use several electronic classification systems to code and categorize patient data for insurance reimbursement needs, and also for databases and registries to track the medical and treatment histories of patients.

Electronic health records specialists need to carefully document patients’ medical history, symptoms, examination and test outcomes, treatments and other important data about the healthcare services they receive.

Other important duties of these professionals are:

  • Reviewing records of patients to ensure they are accurate, complete and timely
  • Organize and manage data for registries and clinical databases
  • Track outcomes for patients for appropriate quality assessment
  • Use new classification software to provide clinical codes for accurate data analysis and reimbursement
  • Protect the health information of patients to ensure that they are confidential and secure

How to Become a Specialist

Electronic health records specialists and health information technicians usually need to hold a postsecondary certificate to work in this field, and some may also earn an associate’s degree.

Postsecondary certificates and associate’s programs in health records technology will usually include courses in medical terms, anatomy and physiology, health data mandates and standards, coding and classification systems, reimbursement for healthcare, statistics and information technology.

Licensing and Certification

Most healthcare organizations will prefer to hire electronic health records specialists who are certified. Or, they may expect the applicant to earn their certification after they are hired. One of the most popular certifications is the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT), and the Certified Electronic Health Records Specialist (CEHRS).

The CEHRS certification is especially important because it will mean you are certified to do the following job duties that are in great demand today:

  • Audit the records of patients for data security compliance
  • Abstract critical information for corporate reports
  • Perform coding duties so that reimbursement claims may be submitted
  • Process release of information requests for patient medical records
  • Review the records of patients to ensure that they are accurate and complete
  • Collection demographic and insurance information for patients
  • Discuss information of patients with doctors and insurance stakeholders

To qualify to take the electronic health records specialist certification examination, you must qualify to sit for the examination. This requires you to have completed an associate’s degree or certificate program to become an electronic health records specialist in the last five years.

Next, you need to set up an NHA account, and apply for the exam and pay the necessary fee. The certification test covers the following subject areas:

  • Software applications and equipment
  • Insurance and billing
  • Charting
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Reporting
  • Case studies

According to the publication Healthcare IT News, it is important for workers in this field to have this critical certification. Employers expect that candidates for electronic health records specialist positions will have studies an NHA-approved curriculum. It has been found that training programs that are NHA-approved and lead to certification lead to employees who are more effective and stay longer.

Employers also like to see job candidates have more than the minimum 60 hours of training as recommended by NHA. They find that the best employees have more training on several EHR systems.

Online EHRM Certificate Programs

To qualify to sit for the electronic health records specialist test, you will need to complete your EHR training program first. There are many online programs available today to choose from. The EHRM career diploma program from Ashworth College is a high quality, affordable program that you can complete in as few as four months.

This program has the following benefits and advantages:

  • You are qualified to take the Certified Electronic Health Records Specialist exam as soon as you graduate. The fee for the exam is part of the program tuition so you do not need to pay extra for it.
  • The online training program instructs you in medical terminology, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance, evaluation and assembly of medical records and proper handling of insurance claims.
  • Students receive extensive, hands-on training in two EMR systems that are cloud based. You will learn how to edit, enter, update and retrieve information for patients, doctors and insurance.
  • Training includes virtual field trip experiences to help to reinforce critical concepts and to fully develop your EHR skills for maximum career growth.

Another benefit of Ashworth College is that it is partnered with the NHA so that you can quickly and easily earn your Electronic Health Records Specialist certification.

The EHRS certification will give you a major advantage in your field. This certification is recognized by many healthcare employers and can help you to find better job opportunities.

Job Outlook for a Specialist

The job outlook for health information technicians is bright, with a 15% increase in job demand anticipated by 2024, which is much faster than average.

As the US population is aging, there is a greater need for medical services. Health information technicians and electronic health records specialists will be required to keep all of the data that results from these added doctor visits properly managed and organized.

Demand in the field also will rise because the use of EHRs or electronic health records is becoming more widespread. This is leading to more need for electronic health records specialists to manage and organize large amounts of healthcare data.

There also will be more registries for serious conditions such as cancer. As the population continues to get older, it is likely that there will be more specific illness registries because many serious diseases occur later in the lifespan. More electronic health records specialists will be needed for these opportunities as well.

The breakdown of job opportunities in this field are as follows:

  • Hospitals: 38%
  • Doctors’ offices: 21%
  • Nursing homes: 7%
  • Administrative services: 6%
  • Professional services: 5%


Becoming an electronic health records specialist, especially one that is certified, will provide you with ample healthcare job opportunities for decades to come.


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Written by Robert Sanchez
Robert Sanchez is's Chief Editorialist. Robert Sanchez has over 10 years experience in the Healthcare field and more recently has become an avid writer advising on career and job topics in this exciting field.

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