What Is a Health Information Management Degree? (With 10 Jobs)
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Doctors and physicians rely on proper health information management to make critical decisions or give useful advice on patient care. Health care information management ensures that a patient's information is up to date, secure and accessible to the right parties. Earning a health information management degree can help you gain skills and knowledge necessary for working in this field. In this article, we discuss what a health information management degree is, explore the program's areas of study and list 10 jobs you can pursue with the degree.
Read more: What Is Health Information Management?
What is a health information management degree?
A health information management degree is an academic program that trains students to support health care facilities' operations. The field encompasses medicine, finance, information technology and law. Students learn about patient information management and the workflow of private, public, small and large health care providers.
Health information management specialists also gain skills in the latest information management and operations technology, such as database software and hardware. They work with patient information like names, addresses, occupations, medical histories and current health statuses. These professionals use the information to make clinical, operational, administrative, financial and ethical decisions centered on the patients.
Areas of study in a health information management program
Health information management students learn about the following topics in their coursework:
Health care functions and services
Health information management coursework covers functions like data collection, storage, retrieval, updates and security. It also includes health data development operations and project management. Students learn about the principles that health information specialists use to execute these functions properly. They also learn to optimize the quality of care while observing the laws and regulations in health care.
Information systems and networks in health care
Health information management students learn the fundamental information technology systems that facilitate data storage and communication. They also focus on the interfaces that integrate organization-wide health information systems. Students also learn to evaluate the capacity of information system applications to fulfill the needs of a health care organization.
Data security and privacy
Data security and privacy are core elements of health information management. Students learn the basic procedures, processes and equipment necessary to store, retrieve and keep data. They also learn to interpret and apply the rules, regulations and laws specific to confidential health care information.
Related: What Is a Cybersecurity Engineer?
Health care statistics and research
Health information management students learn to use statistical analysis tools, biomedical research methodologies and protocols and apply epidemiological principles to their work. They practice implementing them in health information management processes and cases, such as analyzing how fast a disease spreads. Students learn how to analyze the risks, uses and management of biomedical research statistics and to promote improvements in patient information management.
Health care financial management
This area of study teaches how to examine managerial accounting and conduct cost-benefit analysis. Students learn to compare health care facilities' operating capital and other budget factors to various organizational financial goals. This may help the organization achieve success.
Administration and management
The administration and management segment covers fundamental management theories that guide health care programs and organizations. These include human relations resource management, leadership and project management. Students learn to use management principles to develop project management plans and propose solutions for various organizational challenges. The course also teaches them to analyze operational factors like staffing, appraisal and compensation, job analysis, career planning, organizational development and training.
Where can you work with a health information degree?
Health care information degrees can lead to many opportunities in the health care industry. Degree holders have the skills necessary to work in areas like:
Behavioral health organizations
Insurance and pharmaceutical companies
Ambulatory care and long-term care facilities
Hospitals and other health care organizations
Government health care agencies
10 health information management jobs
Jobs you can pursue with a health information management degree include:
1. Medical records abstractor
Medical records abstractors are critical partners for researchers, physicians and agencies that deliver health care. They analyze and interpret medical data that's essential for health care delivery, such as disease trends, comorbidities and socio-economic factors. Medical records abstractors also complete data entry databases and provide patient information to health care providers. These professionals track statistics and search for missing information to ensure the data is complete.
2. Clinical data manager
Clinical data managers ensure that data from pharmaceutical and medical research maintains its integrity. They handle data acquisition and evaluation, and they prepare and approve organizations' data management plans. Clinical data managers also develop, update and maintain data management protocols or lead and train data analysis teams.
Read more: What Is Data Management?
3. Medical coding manager
Medical coders translate medical services and procedures into meaningful data and statistics so health care professionals can understand health care costs and quality control. They can work in medical administrative offices or hospitals and perform leadership and administrative responsibilities to help develop medical coding staff and ensure departmental operations run efficiently.
Other specific responsibilities include maintaining patient record accuracy and security, formulating department policies and procedures and observing network and software security. While some leadership roles in health information management focus on research and statistics, medical coding managers also engage in leadership and managerial duties.
Read more: What Is Medical Coding?
4. Medical records and health information management director
Medical records directors, also known as health information management directors, supervise the operations of facilities' health information department. A medical records director maintains and secures patient data, ensuring electronic medical records are accurate and complete. The position relies on professionals' management skills to guide and motivate employees' adherence to policies and regulations. Medical records directors may also hire employees and train personnel to ensure they keep up with emerging technology and practices.
5. Privacy officer
There are regulations that health care organizations must observe to protect patient information, like the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). A health care privacy officer ensures that health care information is secure, meaning only allowed parties can store, share and access it. A skilled privacy officer understands the ethical and legal implications of securing health care information. These professionals can lead or contribute to the development and adherence to departmental policies.
6. Patient information coordinator
A patient information coordinator interacts with patients and the public to explain a health organization's care. They also contribute to planning new policies for patient care. In some organizations, patient information coordinators manage human resources. Other responsibilities include maintaining patient medical records, such as test results and medical history, managing patient cases and ensuring the organization complies with state and federal regulations.
7. Insurance claim analyst
An Insurance claim analyst reviews insurance claims, which involves verifying the accuracy of insurance claims, checking whether the patient's policy covers the damages, ensuring payment and updating data for completed insurance claims. An insurance claim analyst may also assess claims, adjust estimates and negotiate payments for the affected parties.
8. Data quality analyst
A data quality analyst creates and executes database quality tests to ensure an organization can collect and store data efficiently. They analyze and interpret data trends, such as recent security threats, and regularly inform top management of the trends. A data quality analyst also analyzes electronic reports and ensures the coding is correct.
9. Chief information officer
The chief information officer (CIO) is a C-suite professional who handles the strategic planning, evaluation, development and coordination of the health informatics and technology systems that determine how an organization delivers patient care. They may train health care personnel to use clinical information technologies, such as medical records software and hardware, efficiently. The CIO mainly focuses on operations, with day-to-day tasks that analyze the benefits of various information systems and ensure electronic health records software operates effectively.
10. Compliance auditor
A compliance auditor monitors and reviews whether a health care organization observes all policies and laws on patient privacy, safety and health information technology. They conduct investigations and audits to identify various risks. A compliance auditor also creates plans to address these risks and improve compliance practices for all legal, ethical and industry standards and regulations.
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