Medical records and health information technicians typically need a postsecondary certificate to enter the occupation, although they may have an associate’s degree. Many employers also require professional certification.
Postsecondary certificate and associate’s degree programs in health information technology typically include courses in medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, health data requirements and standards, classification and coding systems, healthcare reimbursement methods, healthcare statistics, and computer systems. Applicants to health information technology programs increase their chances of admission by taking high school courses in health, computer science, math, and biology.
Most employers prefer to hire medical records and health information technicians who have professional certification. A medical records and health information technician can get certification from several organizations. Some organizations base certification on passing an exam. Others require graduation from an accredited program. Once certified, technicians typically must renew their certification regularly and take continuing education courses. Certifications include Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) and Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR), among others. Many coding certifications require coding experience in a work setting. Some states require cancer registrars to have certification; requirements vary by state.
Analytical skills. Medical records and health information technicians must be able to understand and follow medical records and diagnoses, and then decide how best to code them in a patient’s medical records.
Detail oriented. Medical records and health information technicians must be pay attention to details to be accurate when recording and coding patient information.
Interpersonal skills. Medical records and health information technicians need to be able to discuss patient information, discrepancies, and data requirements with other professionals such as physicians and finance personnel.
Technical skills. Medical records and health information technicians must be able to use coding and classification software and the EHR system that their healthcare organization or physician practice has adopted.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition