Best Online Associate in Health Information Technology Programs
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An associate in health information technology is a two-year program that is sometimes offered at community colleges. Students who enroll in a health information technology program learn how to store and process data in an electronic database or other health IT program.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average cost of tuition and fees at a public two-year college was $3,800 for the 2019-2020 school year. The actual cost varies from one school to another. Some online schools offer very competitive rates to attract more students.
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Graduates with an associate in health information technology may qualify for positions as medical records and health information specialists. This position is growing about as fast as average. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical records and health information specialists earned a median salary of $45,240 per year as of May 2020.
What Can I Expect From an Online Associate in Health Information Technology Program?
Individuals who want to pursue a career in health information technology should be creative and work well as part of a team. They should find it easy to empathize with others and be able to go with the flow, accepting whatever comes their way. It also helps to have a knack for explaining things to other people.
An associate program in health information technology consists of around 60-70 credits and takes about two years to complete. In a typical program, students learn about health insurance and reimbursement, legal and regulatory issues, and health services information systems. Students also learn to document and record information in electronic format.
In addition to regular classes, students may have lab requirements, practicums, internships, or other requirements. For example, Baker College requires the students in its associate of applied science (AAS) program in health information technology to complete 120 hours of work experience as a capstone project.
Most associate degrees in health information technology are either AAS or associate of science (AS) degrees. The AAS degree generally prepares students to enter the workforce directly after graduation, while the AS degree is aimed more at preparing students to transfer to a four-year college to pursue a bachelor's degree.
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Popular Online Associate's in Health Information Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
What Courses Will I Take in an Online Associate in Health Information Technology Program?
Basic Medical Terminology
In this course, students learn the basic vocabulary, symbols, and abbreviations used in medical practices. They learn to recognize common prefixes, suffixes, and root words used in medical terminology.
Health Services and Information Systems
Students taking this course will learn about the health information systems that health insurers, hospitals, and other healthcare businesses use to store and exchange information about their patients.
Health Information Processes with Lab
This course introduces students to the formatting of patient records, the creation of indexes and registries, and the storage requirements for patient records. Students learn how to design the forms that are used to input patient data.
Legal and Regulatory Issues in Health Information
In this course, students learn about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and other legislation that affects health information. They learn about patients' right to privacy and other ethical issues in healthcare.
Health Insurance and Reimbursement
This course teaches students how patient care is financed through health insurance. Students study processes and practices, reimbursement, and payment methodologies.
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What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Associate in Health Information Technology Program?
The admission requirements for community college are usually less stringent than those for a four-year college or university. Students still need to meet certain minimum requirements, however. Even community colleges may require a minimum high school GPA or a minimum score on a college entrance exam.
You'll need to start the admissions process by filling out an application form and submitting an application fee. This can usually be done online. You'll also need to submit your official high school transcripts or prove that you passed the GED test to earn your GED diploma.
Some schools require an application essay or letters of recommendation. If you've been working in the medical field, you may be able to take tests to prove your existing knowledge in order to gain college credit for life and work experience.
What Can I Do With an Online Associate in Health Information Technology Degree?
The career outlook for medical records and health information specialists is about average. The BLS projects that jobs for these professionals will grow 9% between 2020 and 2030. In February 2022, there were over 21,000 jobs on Indeed for medical records specialists in the U.S. and over 188,000 jobs for health information specialists.
Payscale reports that the average base salary for someone with an associate in health information technology was $55,000 per year as of April 2021. This is close to the average base salary for graduates with any associate degree, which was $56,000 per year as of February 2022.
Medical records and health information specialists often work in general medical and surgical hospitals. They also work in physicians' offices, educational services, governmental agencies, and professional and scientific services.
See where an associate in health information technology can take you. Learn more about healthcare careers.
Medical Records and Health Information Specialists
Medical records and health information specialists manage, organize, and code health information. They use databases and registries to categorize patient data to maintain patients' health histories and treatment records and for insurance reimbursement purposes. Medical records and health information specialists electronically record health information, organize and update that information, and keep patients' records confidential.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $45,240
Medical coders convert diagnostic and treatment terms from healthcare professionals into codes that are used for recordkeeping and billing. Insurance companies often require certain codes to be used for reimbursement, and medical coders make sure they use the right codes so that the medical office will get paid. Medical coders must possess a thorough understanding of medical terminology in order to ensure proper coding.
Median Annual Salary (February 2022): $44,690
Medical Billing Specialist
Medical billing specialists resolve issues related to billing within healthcare organizations. They help improve and facilitate processes by using standardized practices. They often help with customer service and accounting in addition to taking care of billing. In larger healthcare organizations, medical billing specialists work as part of a team. This is a fast-paced job that requires multitasking.
Median Annual Salary (February 2022): $40,190
Computer Support Specialist
Computer support specialists evaluate and troubleshoot problems that customers have with their company's products. This is often done over the phone on a tech support line. Computer support specialists listen to their customers describe their problems and ask questions to help diagnose the cause of the problem. Then they walk the customer through the necessary steps to resolve the problem.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $55,510
Data analysts locate survey participants and ask them questions to gather data. Then, they analyze the data to gain useful insights from it. They interpret the data and put it into spreadsheets, charts, and reports so that other people can understand it. Data analysts need to be skilled in using Microsoft Access, Microsoft Excel, SharePoint, and SQL databases. They also need good communication skills.
Median Annual Salary (February 2022): $62,610
Health Information Technology Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.
Since many employers look for candidates with a bachelor's degree, some graduates with an associate in health information technology eventually go back to school. They may pursue a bachelor's in health information technology or health informatics.
A bachelor's degree program in health informatics can prepare students for higher-level careers in the field, such as medical records manager and medical office manager. Candidates are more likely to move up to management-level positions in health information technology if they possess a bachelor's degree.
Another degree path for those with an associate in health information technology is healthcare administration or healthcare management. Those with serious ambitions of moving up the healthcare ladder may even consider further education to earn a doctorate in healthcare administration or healthcare management.
How Do I Choose an Online Associate in Health Information Technology Program?
When considering a program's cost, be sure to consider the total cost, including tuition, room and board, and fees. Public in-state, two-year colleges are often more affordable than private schools. Online colleges often charge students in-state tuition. Costs vary from one school to another, so shop around.
Online programs may be synchronous or asynchronous. Asynchronous programs allow you to log in and view the material whenever it is convenient to you, as long as you meet the required deadlines. Part-time programs may allow you to continue working, while full-time and accelerated programs allow you to finish school more quickly. Some accelerated programs can enable you to earn an associate degree in as little as 18 months.
If you're attending college online, location may not matter. However, when evaluating an online associate in health information technology program, check with the school to make sure there are no in-person requirements. If you live in New York City and the program requires you to attend an orientation in California, that course of study may not be right for you.
If you take classes at a school that is not properly accredited, it may not be possible to transfer your credits if you need to switch schools. It is much easier to transfer credits from an accredited college or university. In addition to institutional accreditation, some schools gain programmatic accreditation for specific courses of study.
Many schools offer a variety of student support services, including online support services for remote students who cannot access them in person. You should consider what services you need and check to see if the school offers them. Student services can include tutoring, internships, mentorships, and alumni connections.
Best Accredited Online Associate in Health Information Technology Programs
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Frequently Asked Questions About Associate in Health Information Technology Programs
Is an associate degree in health information technology worth it?
In order to determine whether an associate in health information technology is worth it, you need to consider the cost of the degree, the amount of income you will lose while earning your degree, and the amount you expect to earn after graduating.
For example, if your associate degree costs $22,000, and you stop working at a job that pays $15,000 annually for two years to earn your degree, the total cost of your degree is $52,000. If you get a job earning $45,000 per year after graduating, you will be earning $30,000 more per year than before you got your degree. In this case, it will take less than two years of working your new job to recoup your investment in the degree.
How fast can I get an associate in health information technology degree online?
Most online associate in health information technology degrees take two years to complete. However, an accelerated program may allow you to finish in 18 months. You can sometimes speed up a traditional program by taking extra courses each term or by taking classes during the spring and summer terms.
Online degree programs typically take about the same amount of time as in-person programs to complete. True self-paced degree programs are extremely rare. Usually, schools offer online classes on the same schedule as their on-campus courses.
Is an online associate degree in health information technology credible?
If you earn your online associate in health information technology from an accredited school, your degree will be widely accepted. The accreditation process ensures that the school meets certain minimum standards of credibility.
Make sure you check your school's accreditation status with the accrediting organization. Do not just take the school's word for it. Most accrediting organizations have lists of the schools they have accredited on their websites.
How much money can I make with an associate in health information technology?
According to Payscale, the average salary for someone with an associate in health information technology was $55,000 per year in April 2021. However, your actual salary will vary depending on your level of experience, location, and other factors.
Entry-level jobs usually pay less than more senior positions that require more experience. You may also make less if you live in a rural area. Salaries tend to be higher in large metropolitan areas.
Is an associate degree in health information technology in demand?
The demand for health information technology graduates is higher than some professions and lower than others. If you go to a job posting site and search for "medical records specialist" or "health information specialist," you will likely find thousands of results.
The demand for computer support specialists is about average, as well. The BLS projects 9% growth in jobs for computer support specialists between 2020 and 2030. That's an increase of about 72,200 jobs over 10 years.