Pros and Cons of a Health Information Coordinator Career
As a health information coordinator or manager, you would work with both medical professionals and information technology specialists to ensure the security and accuracy of electronic health records. Check out these pros and cons to see if becoming a health information coordinator is right for you:
|Pros of a Health Information Coordinator Career|
|High job growth field (22% expected increase in jobs from 2012-2022)*|
|No patient interaction*|
|Opportunities to work in numerous medical settings*|
|Cons of a Health Information Coordinator Career|
|A bachelor's degree or higher is required*|
|Many employers prefer employees who are certified*|
|Potentially long hours*|
|Ongoing professional development training*|
|Increasing computer use requires more technical knowledge*|
|Need to keep up with complicated legislation and regulations*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Though a health information coordinator is one of the few healthcare jobs with virtually no patient interaction, you would manage other healthcare professionals and information technology employees. Depending on the size of the practice or department, you could work to oversee all medical records, billing and planning; or you could be responsible for one area of health information management. As a health information coordinator, your knowledge of medical procedures, management, business and healthcare law combine to help you maintain accurate and secure records.
Job Prospects and Salary
As healthcare facilities switch over to electronic records, jobs in health information technology are projected to have faster than average growth. Many job openings will be in clinics and other non-hospital facilities, but hospitals will continue to employ the most health information coordinators. While the the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not have statistics for health information managers, they report that jobs for medical records and health information technicians were expected to grow 22% from 2012-2022. Payscale.com reported in July 2015 that the median salary for health information managers was $47,250.
Education and Training Requirements
A bachelor's degree in health administration is a common requirement for this position, although you could also major in health information management or healthcare administration. Many managers have master's degrees, although some employers hire managers who have job experience alone. The Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) accredits associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs. These programs typically combine courses in business, health informatics and healthcare practices.
What Employers Are Looking for
Many employers are seeking college graduates, but others will consider applicants with job experience. Additionally, many employers prefer applicants who hold industry certification, including the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) or Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) credentials. Check out these summaries of job postings from March 2012 to see what real employers are looking for:
- A recovery and long-term care facility in Wisconsin is looking to hire a health information coordinator to manage a health information department. The employer prefers someone with a college degree, but they are willing to hire a high school graduate with experience.
- A hospital in Louisiana is searching for a health information manager with a bachelor's degree and five years of experience. Applicable experience may be substituted for a college education, and applicants who hold the RHIT or RHIA credential are preferred.
- A rehabilitation facility in New Jersey is looking for a health information management services director to oversee all functions within a health information department, including managing staff. Requirements include a degree in medical records technology or administration and two years of experience. Applicants who hold the RHIT or RHIA credential and have five years of experience will also be considered.
How to Stand Out in the Field
Earning an associate's degree from a CAHIIM-accredited health information technology program will make you eligible to take the RHIT exam, offered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). If you earn a bachelor's degree in health information management, you'll be eligible to take the RHIA exam. The AHIMA also offers various certifications in medical coding. Not all employers will require you to hold the RHIT or RHIA designation, but it can still demonstrate your knowledge and ability to potential employers.
Earn a Master's Degree
Though not all health information coordinators have master's degrees, the BLS notes that a graduate degree is becoming standard for some positions in health information management. The CAHIIM accredits master's degree programs in the field, though a Master of Business Administration (MBA) can provide you with many of the same skills needed to advance your career.
Other Careers to Consider
If you're interested in helping people through an administrative position, but you don't want to work in healthcare facilities, you could look into becoming a social service or community service manager. As with a health information management career, you generally need a bachelor's degree to get started in the field. These managers oversee an organization's programs, both from the financial and project planning sides. Employment was projected to grow faster than average, with a 20%-28% increase expected from 2010-2020. In 2011, the median salary for social and community service managers was $59,000.
If you want to work in healthcare, but you'd like to assume more of a medical role and spend less time in school, you could consider becoming a medical assistant. Medical assistants perform both clinical and administrative tasks, aiding a team of doctors and nurses in a hospital or private practice. You can train to work as a medical assistant in a certificate or associate's degree program; however, many assistants have high school diplomas and train on the job. Employment for medical assistants was projected to increase by 31% from 2010-2020. In 2011, the BLS reported that the median salary for medical assistants was $29,000.