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The Road to a Health Information Management Degree: How Long and Career Options

Health information management (HIM) entails responsibilities such as healthcare administration and medical billing and coding. With a positive career trajectory predicted by the BLS, now is the perfect time to enter this in-demand field. How do you find a HIM job?

To enter the HIM field, you need a health information management degree. You will also want to look at HIM certification options. Your job can take you in a multitude of directions, such as working as a health information technician, medical records specialist, insurance claims analyst, medical secretary, certified medical biller and coder, and so much more.

If you’re curious to learn about what it takes to earn a health information management degree, this article will be your guide. We’ll discuss the timeframe for obtaining your degree and the career options that are yours to explore in this rewarding career field!

How Long Does It Take to Study Health Information Management?

You’ve decided you want to enter the field of health information management. As mentioned in the intro, this is an excellent choice, as your career path is growing and thus has great staying power.

The next choice you have to make is where you’ll enroll for your college education to earn a health information management degree. An online college will allow you to take classes from home and is thus an appealing option.

The time it will take to complete your HIM degree depends on the program level - whether you want to earn an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree. You can also earn an undergraduate certificate that transfers into an associate degree. For example, at Bryan University, the first 36 credits of the HIM associate degree is the Certificate in Medical Billing and Coding. Once students complete the certificate, they continue on to earn an Associate Degree in Health Information Management, which usually takes roughly 20 months on average (total time for both the certificate and associate degree). Then you can be on the way to working in health information management.

Having an associate degree in health information management will allow you to learn the skills that HIM employers expect job candidates to have. You’ll strengthen your abilities in healthcare management, project management, and human resources.

As your job will require, you’ll be taught how analytic tools can visualize data to drive decision-making. You’ll come away from your college program understanding how to create and update patient records and ensure those records comply with medical standards.

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in medical billing and coding, you’ll learn how these duties are performed in all sorts of formats that hospitals and medical centers use, from HCPCS to CPT and ICD.

Is a Degree in HIM Worth It? Career Options with a Health Information Management Degree

Before you proceed with your college enrollment plans, you may wonder if it’s worthwhile to get into the health information management field.

For many reasons, this is a very rewarding career path. The industry is on the rise, as mentioned. You’ll experience personal satisfaction knowing that you’re keeping a hospital or medical facility’s operations streamlined and effective.

Plus, you have so many unique career directions that you can go in once you’ve obtained your health information management degree. Here’s an overview.

Medical Records Technician

Should your health information management undergraduate degree lead you to a job as a medical records technician, you’d work with patients’ records frequently.

When a new patient comes in, you’d create a record for them. As a patient continues seeing your medical facility’s staff, you’d add to their record with each subsequent visit.

You’ll understand medical coding, as this is a must, as you'll be required to do medical coding frequently. Medical coding is the process of assigning the correct reimbursement codes to the patient’s electronic medical record based upon the medical services the patient received.

You’d also be a liaison between insurance companies, medical professionals and providers, and patients.

Health Information Technician or Manager

Working as a health information manager or technician is all about the patient’s treatment.

When a patient receives treatment, you’d collect information about what that treatment was. You’d also analyze records to determine the accuracy and completion of the documentation of the administered treatment.

Other responsibilities of this job include records retrieval, preparing medical records, and scanning existing medical records and related documents.

Insurance Claims Analyst

An insurance claims analyst processes incoming medical claims. They’ll check the information in the claim and verify it. If the information needs to be updated, this is another responsibility of this job role.

You’ll maintain incoming documentation, files, and records, keeping the info neat and accessible. You may calculate the amount on claims and prepare new insurance claims forms.

It’s also up to you to decide which insurance claims are approved or denied. If a claim is denied due to lack of information and that information is later provided, you can update the status of the claim, such as if the claim is approved.

Quality Improvement Analyst

As a quality improvement analyst, your job responsibilities include tracking patient satisfaction metrics and determining methods for increasing that satisfaction for the betterment of the medical facility or insurance office.

You’ll work in a database to review analyses and statistics. Within that database, you’d review historical data to determine how you can cut costs for your company or improve patient outcomes such as satisfaction.

Medical Office Administrator

Perhaps you’re interested in working as a medical office administrator with your HIM degree. You’d work at the front desk at a healthcare facility, doctor’s office, or medical clinic. When someone calls, you’d likely be the one to answer.

While on the phone, you’d manage a patient’s questions and issues. If the patient wants to make an insurance claim, you’d help process it or pass the matter along to the building’s insurance claims analyst.

You can also assist the patient in billing matters as well as scheduling.

When not on the phone, a medical office administrator will update information structures and files that the facility’s scientists, nurses, and doctors utilize every day. You may also have to put together correspondences and reports.

Medical Secretary

The role of a medical secretary is needed in doctor’s offices, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities. With your HIM background and knowledge, you can correspond with medical staff and patients, create medical records, update records over time, verify insurance, and register new patients, among other duties.

Certified Medical Biller and Coder

Finally, there is one of the most in-demand jobs for those with a health information management degree, which is working as a certified medical biller and coder.

As a professional in billing codes, you’d assign the appropriate code to each patient per the codebook to represent an in-patient or out-patient procedure as well as a certain diagnosis.

From surgery centers to urgent care clinics, rehabilitation facilities, nursing homes, insurance companies, public health agencies, home health agencies, college health departments, law offices, physician’s offices, and hospitals, your career can take you to many places!

Ready to Earn Your Health Information Management Associate Degree?

A health information management undergraduate degree can unlock so many doors. At Bryan University, our Associate Degree in Health Information Management program can be that first step to the career you’ve always wanted. This program is fully online so you can complete it from the comfort of your home. Also, it’s accredited by CAHIIM (Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education) so you can be assured the program maintains standards.

To ensure you’re job-ready, you’ll work in 3M coding software, which is what real medical billing and coding professionals use every day. With our EHR Go software, you can review real-life patient cases as you improve your electronic records technology abilities.

We prepare our students for their certifying exams through the American Health Information Management Association or AHIMA, including the Registered Health Information Technician or RHIT certification, the Certifying Coding Specialist or CCS certification, and the Certifying Coding Associate or CCA certification. Plus, we pay for your exam fees!

Part of your tuition costs also goes towards AHIMA membership, which you’ll receive as a valuable benefit. Plus, all the electronic courseware and books you need during your time at Bryan U are in the tuition costs as well.

We pride ourselves on our mastery-based learning environment that helps you understand concepts wholly. With the option to retake assignments and course audits as a graduate that can serve as a refresher, you can keep your knowledge current even after you earn your associate degree.

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