By DeVry University
Health information management (HIM) is a term used to describe the practice of acquiring, analyzing, managing and protecting the health information that is essential to providing quality patient care.
HIM can be used to describe both traditional and digital medical information, but is more typically used to broadly describe the use of various technologies to maintain patient records. As the computerization of health records has mostly replaced paper-based records, the practice of HIM has become vital to the healthcare industry, according to the employment website Indeed.
What is Health Information?
Health information is any data related to a person’s medical history. This includes symptoms, diagnoses, procedures and outcomes. A personal health record may include information such as a patient’s history, lab results, X-rays, clinical information, demographic information and providers’ notes.
Health information can be viewed in the context of a single patient to see how that patient’s health has changed. It can also be analyzed as part of a larger data set to help healthcare providers or researchers understand how the health of a population – such as a group of patients with similar diagnoses, taking the same medication or belonging to the same demographic group – has changed and how medical interventions have influenced that change.
Here are some of the things health information management is responsible for keeping track of:
- Coding and revenue cycle management: This aspect of HIM includes medical billing and coding professionals specifically, who assign diagnostic and procedural codes for billing to manage the revenue flow along the patient journey from registration to final discharge.
- Health informatics: This part involves the technological aspects of managing health information. Data analytics, for example, manages the integrity of data through mapping and quality improvement processes.
- Keep health information secure: This important element of HIM involves compliance and adherence to government and industry regulations that ensure the protection of patient information.
What Does a Health Information Manager Do?
Health information management professionals organize, oversee and protect patient health information in large health systems, physician practices and many other organizations of all sizes. Serving as an essential link between physicians, patients and third-party payers such as insurance companies, they ensure patient health information is complete, accurate and protected.
They also enter patient information into computer databases to comply with federal legislation mandating the use of either electronic health records (EHR) or electronic medical records (EMR). While EHR and EMR are often used interchangeably, there is a difference. EMR generally refers to a digitalized patient chart stored on a computer that contains diagnoses, immunization dates and medications, while an EHR is a digital record of a patient’s health, including medical history, progress notes and lab data.
According to the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, responsibilities of the health information manager include:
- Structuring and maintain health information systems to meet various ethical, medical and legal standards.
- Making sure that medical records are kept confidential and organized.
- Inputting and monitoring the information found in EMR.
- Monitoring trends from audits or claim denials.
- Reviewing data to find ways to improve processes, how they conduct research reporting methodology.
Health Information Management Career Path
HIM professionals work in hospitals, doctors’ offices, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, skilled nursing facilities, home health agencies, consulting firms and other healthcare-related organizations. Some health information managers work in offices, but the digital nature of their work may allow them the flexibility to work remotely.
How would you prepare for an HIM career? While there is no singular path that works for everyone, one way to pursue opportunities in health information management is by earning a bachelor’s degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical and health services managers typically need to have at least a bachelor’s degree before entering the field. Master’s degrees are also common, and may be preferred, depending on the employer.
At DeVry, our Bachelor’s Degree in Technical Management with a Specialization in Health Information Management can prepare you to pursue career opportunities in this dynamic and essential industry.
HIM roles you may consider pursuing include:
- Compliance auditor
- Health informatics specialist
- Health records equipment software sales
- Healthcare data analyst
- Management consultant
- Medical records supervisor†
- Patient account specialist
- Systems analyst
†Employment in this occupation may require years of relevant experience.
What’s the outlook for growth in this career? Occupational outlook data from the BLS shows that employment of medical and health services managers is projected to grow 28% from 2021 to 2031 on a national level, much faster than the average for all occupations, and about 56,000 job opening are projected each year for professionals in this category, on average, over the decade.1
If you’re wondering about certifications for health information management professionals, the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers multiple options including the Registered Health Information Administrator, or RHIA®. According to AHIMA, by completing the requirements of the certification, you are demonstrating that you have knowledge of medical, administrative, ethical and legal requirements and standards related to healthcare delivery and privacy of protected patient information.
Is HIM Right for You?
If you are interested in healthcare, but don’t want a job involving hands-on patient care, you might be well-suited for a career in health information management.
You may want to consider a career in HIM if you are:
- Looking for a field that may offer job opportunities to work in either a facility, office or remotely
- Meticulous and detail-oriented
- Interest in pursuing a career in management
- Enjoy learning new technologies
The widespread use of electronic medical records and the growth and complexity of our healthcare delivery system illustrates the need for professionals in health information management. Working in many different areas of healthcare and in various environments, health information managers such as healthcare data analysts, medical records supervisors and health informatics specialists are the professionals who acquire, process, maintain and protect patient records. Career paths within this field are numerous and typically require some post-secondary education, such as a bachelor’s degree, along with some technical aptitude and an interest in healthcare.
Get Started Toward Your Career in Health Information Management with DeVry
Prepare to pursue a career in health information management. At DeVry, our Health Information Management Degree Specialization can be earned 100% online and covers topics like healthcare services, health information systems, data security and privacy. You’ll become familiar with information systems and health policy and prepare to pursue jobs in healthcare settings such as hospitals, nursing homes and group medical practices. Earn your degree in as little as 2 years and 8 months* or even more quickly with qualifying transfer credits. Classes start every 8 weeks.
1Growth projected on a national level. Local growth will vary by location. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm
*Not including breaks. Assumes year-round, full-time enrollment.