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Medical Records And Health Information Technicians picture    Medical Records And Health Information Technicians image

Medical Records Technicians are the individuals responsible for assembling and maintaining the medical records of patients who receive health care. These records, which are vitally important in treating the patient, contain a compilation of the following information:

  • Medical history
  • Observations
  • Surgical interventions
  • Treatment outcomes
  • Descriptions of symptoms
  • Results of examinations
  • Reports of x-rays and MRIs
  • Results of laboratory tests
  • Diagnoses
  • Treatment plans

Technicians verify the completeness of a patient's initial medical chart and make sure that all forms are properly filled out and authenticated. They regularly consult with physicians and other health care professionals for clarification of patient diagnoses and to obtain any additional information required for a patient's records. Technicians also tabulate data for future analysis, provide documentation when needed for use in legal actions, and compile information used to classify reimbursement status of medical procedures by insurance companies.

Responsibilities

Medical records technicians organize and maintain patient records in a manner consistent with the requirements of all components of the health care system: medical, administrative, regulatory, legal, and ethical. A partial list of their duties includes the following:

  • Process patient admission and discharge documents
  • Review records for accuracy, completeness, and compliance with regulations
  • Enter data into computers regarding demographic characteristics, disease history, diagnoses, and treatments
  • Release information to persons and agencies according to regulations
  • Protect the security of medical records to ensure that confidentiality is maintained
  • Develop health record indexes and storage and retrieval systems to collate information

The specific day-to-day duties of a medical records technician will vary with the nature of the facility for which he/she works. In small facilities, a credentialed medical records technician usually assumes a variety of technician duties which often includes management of a department. In larger or medium-sized facilities, there are usually several technicians and very often, each will specialize in one aspect of health information. In these types of settings, management duties are usually assumed by an administrator. Examples of specialists in this field include the following:

  • Medical Record Coders specialize in coding patients' medical information for insurance purposes. Based on their knowledge of disease processes, these technicians assign a code to each diagnosis and procedure. They then utilize specialized computer software to classify the patient as belonging to one of several hundred "diagnosis-related groups" (DRGs). The DRG classification determines the amount of reimbursement the hospital will recover from the patient's medical insurance carrier or from Medicare to cover the cost of the procedure. Coders are also responsible for using a variety of coding systems other than DRG to enter classifications for other applications such as doctor visits, ambulatory settings, or long-term care.
  • Cancer Registrars specialize in the registry of cancer patients. Based on reviews of a patient's records and pathology reports, they assign codes for the diagnosis and treatment of cancers and also certain benign tumors. Registrars will enter information into regional or national databases and then follow up by conducting annual checks on patients in the registry to track and/or update their treatment, survival, and recovery. Information in the registry is used by physicians and public health organizations for a number of reasons including the derivation of survivor and success rates of various types of treatment, identification of geographic areas having high incidences of certain cancers, and the targeting of potential participants for clinical drug trials.

Job Characteristics

Most medical records technicians work a standard 40-hour week, although some overtime may be required. Those who are employed in hospital settings are often required to work evening or night shifts and/or work on weekends, due to the fact that hospital health information departments are usually open around the clock seven days a week.

Technicians typically do their work in pleasant and comfortable office settings. Unlike their counterparts in most health-related occupations, technicians usually have little or no direct contact with patients. There is some degree of stress in the job due to the ongoing demands for accuracy and the need to pay close attention to detail. Also, technicians are susceptible to the types of discomforts commonly experienced by people who work at computer monitors for prolonged periods of time; notably muscular pain and eyestrain.

To be successful in this job, individuals need good communication skills in order to effectively interface with insurance companies and other establishments. Technicians also need to be detail-oriented and extremely diligent, as accuracy is essential to the job. To an increasing extent, proficiency with computer use is becoming an extremely valuable asset for this profession.

Employment Outlook

The U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (USDL BLS) projects employment of medical records technicians to increase faster than the average rate of growth for all occupations over the upcoming decade. A principal factor driving this growth is the rapid proliferation of new tests, treatments, and procedures that need to be carefully scrutinized not only by health insurance companies, but also by other stakeholders such as regulatory agencies, courts, and consumers themselves. Sustaining the anticipated job growth is recent Federal legislation which mandates the use of electronic medical records, requiring more technicians to enter patient information into computer databases.

Job growth is expected to be especially robust in physicians' offices, particularly for large group practices. Employment prospects in home health care services, outpatient care centers, and nursing and residential care facilities are also expected to thrive. Although job growth in hospitals will not be quite as pronounced as in other settings, new jobs will continue to appear in hospitals as well.

Technicians with a strong background in medical coding will be in especially high demand to accommodate the ever-increasing amount of paperwork involved in filing insurance claims. Also, the influx of electronic health records is causing employers to strongly favor technicians who are prepared to work in an increasingly electronic environment.

Medical Records Technician Training, Certification, and Licensing

In order to enter this field, individuals generally need at least an associate degree from a community or junior college. Ideally, the degree program should be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). There are numerous postsecondary educational institutions which offer flexible course scheduling and/or online distance learning courses. Specific coursework helpful to students who aspire to this profession include anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, legal aspects of health information, health data standards, data coding, statistics, database management, and computer science.

Most employers prefer to hire job candidates who are qualified as Registered Health Information Technicians (RHIT). In order to achieve this designation, individuals must hold an associate degree from a CAHIIM-accredited program. In addition, candidates must also pass a written examination offered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). Some employers also show a preference for candidates who have prior experience in a health care setting.

Although there are no formal degree programs in coding, a number of schools offer certificate programs in coding or include coding as part of the associate degree program for medical records technicians. A few schools offer formal certificate programs in cancer registry which are approved by the National Cancer Registrars Association (NCRA). Some schools and also some employers offer intensive training programs, lasting one or two weeks in duration, in either coding or cancer registry. Most coding and registry specialists start out as general medical records technicians who advance by learning their coding or registry skills on the job.

There are several organizations that offer certifications in coding. Two of these are the Board of Medical Specialty Coding (BMSC) and the Professional Association of Healthcare Coding Specialist (PAHCS). Another organization, the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), offers three distinct certification programs in coding. Certification in cancer registry is available from the NCRA. Most certifications must be renewed periodically, and in order to do so, continuing education units must typically be acquired.

Resources

Major Employers

Approximately 40% of all medical records technicians work in hospitals. Most of the rest are employed in doctors' offices, home health care services, outpatient care centers, and nursing care facilities. Other employers include public health departments and insurance firms.

Schools for Medical Records And Health Information Technicians are listed in the column to the left.

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for:
Medical Records and Health Information Technicians

Listed below are metro areas sorted by the total number of people employed in Medical Records and Health Information Technicians jobs , as of 2016

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2014-24 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

     
Metro Area Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Los Angeles 7700 $41,410
Long Beach 7700 $41,410
Anaheim 7700 $41,410
Fort Worth 4530 $40,460
Dallas 4530 $40,460
Arlington 4530 $40,460
Mesa 4070 $35,980
Scottsdale 4070 $35,980
Phoenix 4070 $35,980
Sugar Land 3610 $38,590
Total Employment for Medical Records Technicians - Top 5 Cities Nationwide
Compare Total Employment for Medical Records Technicians
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EMPLOYMENT
 
Salaries for Medical Records Technicians - Top 5 Cities Nationwide
Compare Salaries for Medical Records Technicians
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Total Employment and Salary for Professions Similar to Medical Records Technicians

Career Stories (Job Profiles) for Medical Records and Health Information Technicians

To find out more about building a career as Medical Records Technicians, we spoke with professionals in the field across a variety of specialties. Learn about their experiences on the job, the steps they took to complete their education, and what it takes to excel in this industry. Click the link to see a story.

All Types

Most Popular Industries for :
Medical Records and Health Information Technicians

Industries representing at least 1% of total jobs for the occupation.

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2014-24 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

Industry Jobs Percent Annual Median Salary
Hospital 65,500 38% $32,600
Medical Office 59,400 35% $26,980
Nursing And Residential Care 16,530 9% $30,310
Government 9,250 5% $39,470
Professional And Technical Services 5,590 3% $33,600
Office Services And Staffing 4,940 2% $32,540
Education 2,410 1% $36,550
Business Management 2,130 1% $36,050
Click the Visit School Site buttons to go directly to a school's website and learn more about the school and programs it has to offer. School website will open in a new tab.
Click the Request Info buttons to request more information from a representative at the school.
 
Results:  10
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Programs
  • Medical Administrative Specialist
  • A Los Angeles-based private college offering programs in medical sciences, legal studies, and graphic design since 1985.
  • Has weekend programs, including certified  veterinary technology, nurse assistant, and hemodialysis technician.
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  • 3 campuses in Southern California.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
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Alhambra
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Programs
  • Medical Billing and Coding
  • Offers a free trial period so students can attend classes before paying tuition.
  • Provides blended courses that combine traditional classroom instruction with online learning.
  • Lets students connect with peers at any time, and instructors during office hours with online chat rooms.
  • Gives students the chance to participate in externships and clinical training work under the general supervision of college staff.
  • Has accelerated programs that allow students to take the same coursework in a shorter timeframe.
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Anaheim
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  • Medical Billing & Coding Specialist

About Brightwood College

Brightwood College offers accelerated programs that combine flexible schedules and professional instruction to create a rewarding learning experience for individuals focused on gaining the skills for specific careers. Brightwood College is owned and operated by Education Corporation of America.

About Education Corporation of America

Education Corporation of America's institutions broaden access to postsecondary educational opportunities.

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Chula Vista
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Programs
  • MS Health Informatics
  • MSN Informatics Specialization

The University

With over 80 years of academic achievements, Jacksonville University is a traditional, longstanding institution consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of America's best colleges.

Programs
  • Administrative Medical Assistant
  • Morning, afternoon, evening and weekend classes are available.
  • Offers lifetime career assistance services to graduates, including resume and cover letter assistance, employer networking, and one-on-one employment counseling.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET).
  • 8 campuses located across California, with 3 additional campuses in New Hampshire and Maine and online options.
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Fairfield
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Programs
  • Medical Office Specialist (10-Month Diploma Program)
  • Dedicated to providing  career training since 1975.
  • Has 13 campus locations in Southern California and a campus in Morrow, GA.
  • Provides flexible class times including weekends.
  • Offers curriculum that ranges from 8 month diploma programs to 16-month Associate of Applied Science degree programs.
  • Has admissions professionals available to help students decide which diploma or degree program they should pursue.
  • Gives job placement assistance strengthened by relationships with local employers.
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San Marcos
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Programs
  • Medical Billing and Coding
  • Offers career placement assistance services to recent graduates.
  • Our short-term allied health programs will give you the skills and knowledge to become a part of the exciting health care field.
  • Programs include Medical Office Specialist, Medical Assistant, Dental Assistant and Healthcare Administration.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
  • Main campus is located in Van Nuys, California, north of Los Angeles.
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Panorama City
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Programs
  • Associate of Science in Medical Administrative Billing and Coding
  • Has students attend one four-week class at a time and take their final exam before moving on to their next class.
  • Offers 24/7 online tech support, with a typical response time of 4 hours or less.
  • Has online help centers that offer assistance with writing, statistics, medical assisting, and more.
  • Provides job placement assistance to all its students and alumni.
  • Researches trends for growing fields to tailor a more effective curriculum.
Programs
  • Medical Billing and Coding Specialist Program
  • Offers training in various types of massage therapy, physical therapy/sports rehab, and personal fitness training & wellness.
  • Teaches in an environment that promotes learning and encourages empathetic and compassionate therapists.
  • Career service professionals work directly with students from the start of their program, and help them pursue employment in day spas, luxury hotels, cruise ships, and other locations.
  • Students can work in the SOCHI Massage Clinic to gain experience and build their career skills.
  • Financial aid representatives help students develop a personalized financial plan to finance their tuition.
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Reseda
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Programs
  • Certificate - Medical Office
  • Many programs require externships, allowing students to gain real-world experience.
  • Approved A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) since 1984.
  • Offers 22 accelerated, career-focused program options including business administration, medical assisting, and more.
  • Regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
  • 11 campuses across California, with an online division as well.
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Delano
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We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Medical Records and Health Information Technicians.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

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