How Can I Become a Health Information Manager?

Acquiring and securing a patient’s medical information through digital and traditional means is the responsibility of health information technicians working under a Health Information Manager. This important medical professional is responsible for keeping every patient’s privacy and rights protected while making sure their critical medical information gets into the right hands. From keying in health information correctly, to appropriate coding of medical conditions and safeguarding medical information with appropriate technology applications, a Health Information Manager plays one of the most important roles in providing excellent patient care. Due to the extremely sensitive nature of overseeing a patient’s medical information, a Health Information Manager must go through a prescribed course of study and certification to work in this field.

Job Requirements for Health Information Managers

The job requirements of a Health Information Manager create the framework for obtaining appropriate credentials in Health Information Management. Health Information Managers will be expected to:

  • Apply, use and trouble-shoot today’s software programs and computer systems that record and store patient information.
  • Manage and coordinate digital and traditional records with efficiency and discreetness.
  • Oversee the work of Health Information Technicians.
  • Act as a critical link between administrators, medical practitioners, information technology specialists and technology designers.
  • Enjoy communicating with patients and medical staff, as well as working with technology.

These job tasks require specific education and training as prescribed by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).

Degree and Certification Requirements for Health Information Managers

Becoming a Health Information Manager (HIM) requires taking coursework from programs accredited by the Commission on Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). Unlike Health Information Technicians (HITs), who typically can work after acquiring coding certification in programs lasting six months to a year, those wishing to become HIMs must pursue two or four year programs for an Associate’s, Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Health Information Technology. Many HIMs start out as HITs and advance their careers through programs sponsored by their employers.

Accredited institutions may offer health information coursework on traditional campuses, via online programs or often through a combination of both. Basic foundational concepts covered include:

  • Coding, including the latest ICD-10 pathways
  • Cancer registry data collection
  • Clinical documentation
  • Anatomy and Physiology coursework
  • Home Health Services
  • Mortality reporting
  • Principles of General Equivalence Mappings
  • Legal parameters for handling confidential information

Job Opportunities for Health Information Managers

Having a degree in the health information industry opens up a wide variety of job opportunities. Information from The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that job growth for HIMs will rise by 23% between 2012-2022, a much faster than average pace compared to all other occupations. Degree holders in this field can expect to find work in a variety of places, including: Doctor’s and dental offices, group medical practices, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, public health facilities, academic institutions, insurance companies and government agencies.

The population is growing, and as a significant portion ages, the need for conscientious, ethical medical personnel has never been greater. Health information specialists will be in high demand to appropriately manage patient information with dignity and privacy. HIMs are the key link between patients and their medical services, providing patients with peace of mind knowing that the information recorded about them is accurate and confidential. If you are interested in a medical career, consider the benefits of serving your community as a Health Information Manager.