Health information technology, commonly referred to as health IT, is the branch of the healthcare system that oversees the ways in which technology systems are used to manage a patient’s data.
The use of health IT does a great deal for the healthcare industry. This includes reducing medical errors, healthcare costs, administrative efficiencies, paperwork and improving the overall quality of healthcare.
Health Information Technology Degree Types
The type of degree you earn plays a significant part in what you learn in school, how long you spend studying, and what jobs are available to you. For some individuals, earning a certificate may be all you need to start working in your chosen field.
However, some occupations require you to have a bachelor’s degree at minimum and some require a degree of even higher standing before you can be considered for the position. Below is a list of the degree types that you can earn in health information technology.
Associate Degree: An associate’s degree is the degree type that many people obtain when they want an entry-level position in health information technology. When obtaining this degree, students typically learn medical terminology, health insurance information, health information fundamentals, and health services and information systems.
One of the more common things for students to do is earn a degree after doing a few years of work. An associate’s degree is a worthwhile effort for those who aren’t sure how much time they’d like to spend in university.
Bachelor’s Degree: A bachelor’s degree is one of the more common degrees earned by professionals. In a health information technology bachelor’s degree program, you will learn the skills needed to work in health care administration and management.
While a bachelor’s degree can be challenging to obtain, you are exposed to various aspects of the health information technology field. These programs typically take four years to complete, as opposed to the two years needed to complete an associate degree.
Master’s Degree: A master’s degree is one of the highest levels of degrees you can earn in health information technology. If you want to obtain a career in management or other high-level positions, you may need a master’s degree before you can be considered for the position.
Those with a master’s degree in health information technology tend to end up overseeing entire systems that utilize large amounts of hospital data and record management systems.
Pursuing this degree means you will be exploring some of the more complex aspects of health information technology. The length of these programs varies, but you can expect to spend a few more years in university in order to obtain it.
Certificates: Similar to an associate’s degree, a certificate in health information technology can get you in the door for several entry-level positions in the medical information technology field.
Certificate programs vary from school to school, but there are numerous benefits to them. One of the most significant benefits is the fact that certificate programs can take less time, and be a bit less expensive, to earn compared to more advanced degrees.
However, there may not be as many employment opportunities available to you as there would if you earned a proper degree from a college or university.
Health Information Technology Careers
When working in health information technology, you’re tasked with working on patient medical records. Some of these careers include being a health information manager, health informatics specialist or health information technician.
There are other health information technology professions where the job is more focused on more traditional information technology positions, such as design, maintenance of computer networks and implementing technology. No matter what your job title may be, you will always be working toward improving healthcare for patients and providers through technology.
Working with a health information technology degree online gives you several career paths to explore. In fact, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a projected employment growth rate of 11 percent by 2028. Below is a list of some of the career opportunities available to you if you’ve earned a degree in health information technology.
Nurse Informaticist: A nurse informaticist, also known as a nursing informatics specialist, is a healthcare professional that is tasked with organizing and managing records using EMR and/or EHR systems. This position is defined as someone who oversees the integration of information, data and knowledge to support decisions made by patients and healthcare providers.
Clinical Systems Analyst: A clinical systems analyst is an individual who investigates and solves problems relating to electronic medical record systems. These individuals are skilled and have a strong understanding of programming languages, operating systems and system hardware used at particular healthcare organizations.
Medical Secretary: A medical secretary is mostly tasked with performing clerical and administrative duties that help medical professionals work in a more efficient manner. Medical secretaries are generally responsible for transcribing dictations, aiding physicians with various reports, and creating and editing correspondence documents.
In addition to these tasks, medical secretaries may also be involved in doing various forms of technical support, such as updating and maintaining medical records, as well as making arrangements for patient hospitalization.
Medical Coders: As a medical coder, your job would be to review medical documents and translate the information into numeric code. You’ll have to utilize a standard healthcare coding system and simplify complex medical data to a simple series of easily referenceable and understandable codes.
People who work in this position typically serve as the go-between for the business and medical sides of the healthcare industry. Doctors and pharmacists both use the reports created by medical coders to understand a patient’s medical history. This information is also used by health insurance professionals to decide how insurance payouts are measured.
Medical and Health Services Manager: A medical and health services manager works as an administrator or executive who coordinates, directs and plans healthcare services. While having a health IT position is important, the requirement for this position is that the individual must have a working knowledge of EHR and EMR trends. This is one of the higher paying positions in the healthcare field.
Health Information Management Consultant: A health information management consultant helps companies deal with complex business problems. These consultants specialize in aiding healthcare organizations with all their health information management needs. Some of their tasks include implementing new medical record processes and systems.
Patient Information Coordinator: A patient information coordinator, also commonly referred to as a patient navigator or health educator, helps people manage things in relation to their healthcare. This involves aiding individuals in understanding their health information, insurance options and healthcare provider.
In order to be successful as a patient information coordinator, you must have strong communication skills and a strong understanding of medical terminology, along with health information technology knowledge.
Data Analyst: Data analysts are in demand in various industries, including healthcare. A data analyst in the health field studies and compiles medical data. The job requires a strong understanding of multiple computer-based applications and the ability to identify various insights from medical data in relation to how things can improve patient care.
By analyzing patient health data, analysts can gauge how effective some treatments are and make recommendations on patient safety initiatives and cost-saving efforts. While working as a data analyst, you are given the opportunity to find the most efficient ways to take care of individuals, meaning you help hospitals and other healthcare facilities run more smoothly.
Health Information Technicians: A health information technician reviews medical charts to make sure things are accurate and complete. These professionals are also tasked with creating reports and assigning diagnosis codes to different medical charts, which are important for insurance claims and collecting data. A health information technician is responsible for gathering, analyzing and managing information so healthcare providers can take care of their patients successfully.
These professionals are commonly found in hospitals, medical clinics, home care agencies, nursing homes and public health agencies. They can also work in various healthcare-related fields and have a number of options available to them.
Health Information Technology Degree Online Schools
Earning your degree online gives you the convenience of learning and studying without having to go to campus or any classrooms. However, not all schools are the same. The right learning institution may make it easier for you to find job positions upon graduating. Below is a list of some of the best schools for earning your health information technology degree online.
Dakota State University prepares students to work as health information technicians with its online program. Upon completing the program, you will have learned the skills needed to make sure medical records are accurate and patient health is protected.
All students within the program must complete a supervised professional internship, along with completing their classroom material. The internship also provides networking opportunities and training at a healthcare facility so students get genuine experience in their chosen profession.
Through the Fisher College health information technology degree online program, students learn about health data and how to accurately file and manage healthcare information. Students study courses that deal with organization, analysis, coding, computation and evaluation of data. Learners typically take six semesters to complete the program.
Throughout the program, students must complete two supervised professional internships. The first internship comes in the first term and the second one comes in the last term. These internships give students hands-on experience in healthcare work.
Shoreline Community College is a prominent school that offers over 100 academic programs, many of which are online. This includes their health information technology degree program, which teaches students how to professionally manage and college health information records.
Upon graduating from this program, students can find work in several health information technology-related fields. This includes working in coding, as a specialist, technician, health information manager and more.
Peirce College has one of the best health information technology degree online programs for students that want to work in the healthcare IT field. Students can earn their associate’s degree in the program and there are both hybrid and online options for students.
Graduates from the program can find work in various entry-level fields of health information technology. These positions include working as a medical assistant, insurance and claims specialist and staff at a hospital facility.
Pierce offers individuals an opportunity to continue their education and earn a bachelor’s degree through their health information administration program, which opens up more career opportunities.
Hutchinson gives students the opportunity to pursue an associate degree online in health information technology. The program includes 66-credit hours of courses and prepares students to manage information and records in the healthcare industry.
Students take courses that cover healthcare analytics, medical terminology, records applications and even participate in a coding lap. While you’re within the program, you can also take the national RHIT certification exam from the American Health Information Management Association.
Learners have access to several of Hutchinson Community College’s support services for online students, such as technical assistance, proctoring information for exams and a number of library resources.
Health information is an emerging field that is growing in importance as more and more healthcare facilities become reliant on the proper and accurate use of data. Through data and health information, physicians and other healthcare providers can make more accurate decisions and better treat their patients.
As healthcare becomes more and more integrated with technology, the demand for these positions continues to rise.
While these online programs are typically conducted remotely, many of them require students to receive professional experience. This is typically done through internships. Through them, students gain hands-on knowledge of their position and how to perform their duties upon graduating.
If you have an interest in the field of health information technology, earn your degree online today. Your efforts can help make the healthcare field run much more smoothly.