By Donald Rouse
Program Director, Health Information Management at American Public University
Health Information Management (HIM) plays a critical role in healthcare, and it is also very beneficial to our society. HIM practitioners collect, protect, and analyze medical information. In doing so, they also help provide quality healthcare for patients.
They are responsible for the daily oversight of health information and electronic health records. Skilled HIM professionals ensure that healthcare facilities are running smoothly and any information needed can be provided to you (and medical professionals) quickly and efficiently. Their responsibilities include operating computer information systems, coding diagnoses and procedures for reimbursement, maintaining quality control of health records, and more.
These experts are also the caretakers and guardians of personal health information. They ensure that confidential patient information is secure and released only according to strict state and federal laws.
There are many benefits to being a HIM professional, including:
- Multiple career path options.
- You can choose to work independently, with others, or both.
- You can work in a healthcare setting, but not directly with patients.
Having the option to choose from multiple career paths is a big plus for many people. With this option, your job description can fluctuate, but you are not limited to only doing one thing. Some of the different career paths a prospective practitioner can choose from are:
- HIM Department Director
- HIM Systems Manager
- Information Security Officer (ISO)
- Chief Privacy Officer (CPO)
- Corporate Compliance Officer (CCO)
- Health Data Analyst
- Clinical Coding Specialist
- Patient Information Coordinator
- Physician Practice Manager
- Financial Specialist
- Director of Quality Management.
All of these occupations permit you to work in a variety of different healthcare settings, including hospitals, ambulatory care facilities, physician practices, managed care organizations, long-term care facilities, home care providers, behavioral health facilities, consulting firms, and information systems vendors. According to AHIMA, salary varies depending on the primary work setting, ranging from hospice and home health care to acute-care hospitals. The average salary for HIM professionals is $57,000. New graduates start around $32,000, but after five years they can reach the $50,000 range (Morgan, 2013).
Another benefit of working in health information management is having the option to work independently, with others, or both. Usually, individuals who choose to work from home have had some clinical experience. They also tend to have a certification such as CCS, or certified coding specialist. A CCS has sat for and passed a standardized test to verify their coding skill.
For some in HIM, working on their own is easier and gives them a greater sense of independence. You can also determine your own hours and which days work best for you before making your work schedule. HIM professionals that work from home keep in touch with their clients via email and phone and are primarily responsible for ensuring that agreed-upon deliverables are sent by agreed-upon deadlines. Those who choose to work with others can do so at any healthcare facility, government agency such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), or insurance company.
There are many benefits to being a part of the HIM profession. The different jobs available to you are great. You can choose your own hours and there’s the option to work alone, with others, or both,. You can elect to work with computers or paperwork and not directly with patients. HIM is the fastest-growing profession and these benefits will help it continue to grow (Health Information 101, 2015).
Health Information 101. (n.d.). Retrieved December 1, 2015, from
Morgan, K. (2013, June 21). Outlook is bright for health information management.
Retrieved December 1, 2015, from http://www.chron.com/jobs/article/Outlook-is-bright-for-health-information-4614694.php
About the Author: Donald (Nick) Rouse received his doctorate in Adult Education from the University of Georgia (UGA) and his post-baccalaureate certification in Health Information Administration from the University of Toledo. Subsequently, he sat for and passed the Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) exam. He has taught numerous Health Information Management (HIM) courses, general biology, anatomy and physiology, concepts of health, medical microbiology, environmental science, pre-algebra, algebra, statistics, Microsoft Office, and environmental science at the collegiate level. He has substantial experience with adult education, quantitative methods and extensive computer skills including Microsoft Office. Finally, he has been a program director for over a decade, with the majority of that time being a program director of HIM.