How To Become A Health Information Manager

A health information manager keeps all patient records safe and secure. You must see to it that only those personnel who are authorized to do so have access to the institution’s database. You must maintain patient records, always seeing to it that these are complete and correct. Accuracy is very important in this job since the records could be used for research purpose or in endeavors that help the organization maintain the quality of its products or services.

Health information managers are classified by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics as a type of medical and health services manager. Included in this category are clinical administrators, nursing home administrators and assistant administrators. The role of medical and health services managers lies in the planning, direction and coordination of various services in the healthcare setting.

In order to do your job as a health information manager successfully, you need to be updated with the latest developments on health information systems. Information technology evolves quickly and security measures that were considered new last year may not give the organization the same degree of database protection this year. You should know about existing laws and any proposed regulations in the cyber security space that could potentially impact the safety and security of the patient records you protect. You should also work on making your organization’s information technology processes and operations more efficient and responsive to the needs of both the personnel and customers who will use it.

As a health information manager, you need to be knowledgeable about various software technologies that your healthcare facility will utilize. For example, if the hospital starts using coding and classification software and electronic health record (EHR) systems, then you should be an expert at these systems. You should also be highly analytical in order to understand how these systems work and how it protects patient data. Moreover, you should also be able to pay attention to those little details that could affect the integrity of the data you are protecting. With the more sophisticated and subtler methods that cyber criminals use today, it can be very difficult to determine if a system is already under attack. The health information manager who has a keen eye for detail, however, will notice that something is not quite right and will be able to take steps to thwart the attack before it has the opportunity to infiltrate deeper into the system. Since you will be working with members of your staff and discussing about information technology issues with doctors, health insurance representatives and other professionals, you also need to have excellent interpersonal and communication skills.

Why Become A Health Information Manager

One reason to become a health information manager is the fact that it gives you the opportunity to really do something concrete about protecting vital digital information. If you are passionate about safeguarding records in databases then this career will put you on top of keeping one of the most important files in people’s lives—that of healthcare records—safe and secure. Computers and the Internet have become a regular part in our daily lives and there is satisfaction in the knowledge that your work keeps these vital records away from the prying hands of people who might want to use it for illegal and damaging purposes.

On the more practical side of things, a career as a health information manager is appealing because it is a fast-growing occupation based on government projections. As healthcare settings start turning to computerized records, prospects look good for this occupation. It is also one of those jobs that pay quite well.

Health Information Manager Work Environment

Health information managers typically work in an office setting, surrounded by computers and related equipment. They work fulltime in hospitals, group medical practices, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities. Some work in facilities offering ambulatory healthcare services while others work with various government agencies. In cases where their services are needed during emergencies, such as when the system malfunctions or when there is a suspected system breach, they may be required to work in the evenings, weekends or holidays.

Health Information Manager Salary

The May 2013 Occupational Employment and Wages report of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the mean annual wage of medical and health services managers, health information managers included, is $101,340. Their salary also depends on the size of the facility they are employed in and how much responsibility they are handling. Citing the Medical Group Management Association’s report, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2012 that medical and health services managers working in a facility that had six or fewer doctors had a median compensation of $87,862 while in practices composed of 7 to 25 physicians, the wage is $126,478. In practices that had 26 or more doctors, the median compensation is $148,604.

Health Information Manager Career Outlook

The job outlook is rosy for health information managers and other medical and health services managers. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that in the decade covering 2012 to 2022, the employment rate of this group is set to rise 23 percent, a rate that is much faster than the average for all job types. The demand will come from the large retiree population that will continue to stay active. In their quest to remain in the peak of health, they will require medical and healthcare services which will spur the need for more doctors and facilities. Naturally, this will also require the services of more managers. As more facilities adopt electronic keeping of patient records, the demand for health information managers is expected to grow.

Health Information Manager Degree

A bachelor’s degree in health information management is needed to enter this profession. A master’s degree improves chances of employment and advancement although it’s not really necessary for entry-level positions. Students can opt to take this on-campus but there are a number of online programs that students who are already working can take.

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers certification to graduates of bachelor’s or master’s degrees. Meeting the requirements, one of which is passing a test, makes one a Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA).

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