What You Should Know About This Degree
Because health information technicians play such an important role in the healthcare system, certification is typically required to enter the field. Near the end of an accredited health information technology program, you will need to pass a certification exam. The most popular health information technology credential is the Registered Health Information Technician credential (RHIT), which is administered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). Other common health information technology credentials include the Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) and Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) certificates.
The type of certification you pursue will be based on your current level of education and professional goals. RHITs typically work directly with healthcare data and tend to specialize in data capture, including medical coding data for reimbursement and research purposes. To sit for the RHIT exam, candidates must complete a Health Information Management (HIM) program at an associate degree level, accredited by the CAHIIM. RHIA holders usually focus on HIPAA privacy and security, data governance, and data analytics.
RHIA applicants must complete the baccalaureate-level academic requirements of an HIM program accredited by the CAHIIM to be eligible for the RHIA credential. Those with a CCS classify medical data from patient records by assigning numeric codes for each diagnosis and procedure. CCS candidates are not required to hold a degree; however, to be eligible for the CCS exam, they typically must complete courses in subjects such as anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, pharmacology, pathophysiology, reimbursement methodology, and ICD diagnostic coding or have two years of related coding experience.
Here are some questions to ask when researching health information technology programs:
- Am I eligible for this program? Applicants to health information technology programs might increase their chances of admission by taking high school courses in biology, computer science, health, and math. A high school diploma or equivalent, plus college-level placement in reading, writing, and math, is typically enough to qualify a student for a health information technology program.
- How long does it take to complete this degree? The amount of time it takes to earn a health information technology degree depends on several factors. It typically takes two years for a full-time student to earn an associate degree in health information technology. Pursuing a bachelor’s degree requires four academic years. Certificate programs are generally of shorter duration.
As you research programs, keep track of application deadlines and materials you must submit for each program. You can usually find this information on the schools’ websites or by contacting their admissions departments.
Another important consideration is how you’ll pay for your education. Submit financial aid applications on time, and check out other kinds of potential funding, such as grants, scholarships, and tuition reimbursement from your employer.