Associate in Health Information Technology Program Guide

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April 6, 2021

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Over the past decade, thousands of hospitals, medical practices, and healthcare providers have implemented electronic medical records programs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 85% of physicians use electronic records systems to track patient health and communicate with other providers.

Medical providers turn to medical records and health information technicians' expertise to implement and maintain these vital patient records. Health information technicians ensure record accuracy, security, and accessibility. These individuals may also code medical records for payment and reimbursement or specialize in working with cancer and tumor registries.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that health information technicians earn a median annual salary of $42,630. The BLS also projects employment for these professionals to grow by 8% between 2019 and 2029 as electronic medical records continue to expand to more providers.

You can prepare to enter this growing field by earning an associate degree in health information technology and learning about computer science, medical terminology, and business topics. Additionally, an online associate degree in health information technology can serve as the first step to a career in healthcare administration, health informatics, or practice management.

Should I Get an Associate in Health Information Technology?

While records technicians do not interact with patients directly, their work can impact patient safety and quality care.

Working with electronic medical and health records requires an eye for detail to ensure accuracy, as well as strong interpersonal skills to resolve questions with providers. While records technicians do not interact with patients directly, their work can impact patient safety and quality care.

Most records and health information technicians work in hospitals; however, most medical providers, including physicians' offices, nursing facilities, and outpatient clinics, need records technicians. Most positions offer full-time work during standard business hours, but hospitals and other facilities may have evening or overnight shifts available.

Entry-level positions require some postsecondary training, such as an online associate degree in health information technology. An associate degree requires about two years of full-time study. Many programs also prepare graduates to continue on and earn a four-year degree.

In addition to a degree, you can also earn a professional credential from the American Health Information Management Association to boost your employability. Credentials include certified coding associate, registered health information technician, and health data analyst. Maintaining your professional credentials requires ongoing professional development and continuing education.

What Will I Learn in a Health Information Technology Associate Program?

An associate degree in health information technology combines computer science courses with medical terminology, data analytics, and biology training. Most associate programs require 60-70 credits. Some schools align their curriculum with the registered health information technology or certified coding associate credentialing exams.

Schools may offer an associate of applied science (AAS) or associate of science degree (AS). AAS pathways typically focus more on career-specific skills, without as many general education courses. Students planning to continue their education and earn a bachelor's may prefer enrolling in an AS program, which should satisfy general education requirements for four-year programs.

Also, make sure that your program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education. This will ensure that your degree is recognized by potential employers, and it can allow you to seek professional certification and/or continue your education later.

Many schools offer an online associate degree in health information technology. Some of these programs deliver coursework asynchronously, providing students with increased scheduling flexibility. Distance learners can often work at health providers near their homes to complete practicum or clinical work.

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What Can I Do With an Associate in Health Information Technology?

Healthcare providers need professionals who can maintain their electronic medical records and keep information safe. The BLS projects 8% job growth for medical records and health information technicians from 2019 to 2029. These professionals work in hospitals, physicians' offices, outpatient care centers, and long-term care facilities.

Much of the projected growth in this field stems from the continued transition to electronic records. Specializations in medical dosimetry, cancer registry, and billing can provide additional job opportunities.

An associate degree in health information technology not only prepares you for an entry-level position in medical coding or electronic health records, but it can also launch your career in healthcare administration, network administration, or health services. Many of the skills gained while earning your online associate degree in health information technology can prepare you for continued study in business, computer science, or healthcare administration.

Popular Career Paths

Health Informatics Information Systems Management Healthcare Administration Health Services Public Health

Popular Continued Education Paths

Bachelor's in Management Information Systems Bachelor's in Healthcare Management Bachelor's in Health Informatics Bachelor's in Computer Science Bachelor's in Business Administration

How Much Money Can I Make With an Associate in Health Information Technology?

According to the BLS, health information technicians earn a median salary of $42,630. Hospitals, which employ more than 115,000 health information technicians, pay an average salary of $50,940. Technicians living in Washington, D.C., earn the highest average wages ($60,530), followed by Alaska ($58,6200), and Washington ($56,890).

Frequently Asked Questions About Associate in Health Information Technology Programs

What is health information technology?

Health information technology combines an understanding of computer systems with medical terminology and coding. The field serves as a cornerstone for the transition to electronic medical health records across the healthcare industry. Individuals in this field maintain accurate patient records and ensure their security.

How long does it take to get a degree in health information technology?

An associate degree in health information technology requires 60-70 credits. Students attending school full time often graduate in two years. Part-time students may need additional time to complete requirements. Online programs may allow learners to complete their degree while working.

How much does it cost to get an associate in health information technology?

Because an associate degree in health information technology requires only two years to complete, students can benefit from attending two-year colleges or career-focused technical colleges. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, two-year schools charged an average tuition of $3,564 during the 2018-2019 academic year, compared to $16,318 at four-year schools.

Is a health information technician a good career?

Health information technology requires an eye for detail and comfort using electronic health records and other computer systems. You also need good communication skills to resolve questions in the records or clarify diagnoses with providers and ensure reimbursement from payers. If you have these abilities, working as a health information technician can let you help people while holding a secure career.

Are health information technicians in demand?

The BLS projects 8% job growth for medical records and health information technicians from 2019-2029. Hospitals employ the most health information technicians, though these professionals also work in physicians' offices, outpatient clinics, and long-term care facilities.

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