What Does a Medical Records Technician do?

A medical records technician, also called a health information technician, is an important employee to health care facilities, but what exactly do medical records technicians do? While each employer may have a slightly different list of duties for these professionals, there are certain things that almost all workers in this field do.

The Job

Medical records technicians most commonly work for hospitals, but they can also work for physician’s offices, nursing homes, residential care facilities and the government. Most of them work full time, and since hospitals are open 24 hours per day and don’t close for holidays or weekends, technicians may have to work non-traditional hours. Medical records technicians go over patient records to make sure that everything is completed and accurate. They also organize the data found in those records so that information can be put into registries and databases. Once a patient is treated, technicians record the outcome. Because records are beginning to be stored electronically rather than on paper, medical records technicians usually do most of their work on computers and must be familiar with electronic health records software. They’re also responsible for making sure that patients’ records remain confidential and secure. The median annual wage for these workers is around $40,000.

Specializing

Many technicians are generalists, but a medical records technician can specialize if he or she desires. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical coders and cancer registrars are medical records technicians who have decided to specialize in something. A medical coder usually works with both a health care facility and billing agency to make sure that outgoing bills are accurate. An inaccurate bill could cost a hospital hundreds or even thousands of dollars, so medical coders need to be able to pay attention to detail. Cancer registrars have duties that are similar to regular medical records technicians, but they work with cancer patients. Technicians assign codes for tumors to specify whether or not they are cancerous, and they also track things such as treatment plans, recovery times and survival rates. They also put together information so that research can be done.

Becoming One

If you think that you might want to work as a records technician for a hospital or health care facility, there are a few things that you should know. To work in the medical records field as a technician, you’ll have to get a post-secondary education. While you may be able to find a job with a one-year certificate, a two-year degree is recommended. Getting a Registered Health Information Technician certificate can also help you land a job. While you won’t be working directly with patients, you’ll still have a lot of contact with physicians and workers in the finance department. Knowing how to use coding and classification software is a must, and you should be able to understand diagnoses and records. Job opportunities for medical records technicians are supposed to grow much faster than average, so you should be able to find a job fairly quickly after going to school and getting certified.

Medical records technicians may not work directly with patients like doctors and nurses do, but hospitals, physician’s offices and residential care facilities couldn’t run without them. All in all, becoming a medical records technician is a great career choice.