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Health Information Management & Everything You Need To Know

doctor discussing about health information management

There’s a lot more that goes into a simple doctor’s visit, or even a trip to the emergency room, than you think there is.

In fact, it’s not very simple at all.  Behind the scenes, these doctors, surgeons, physicians, and other medical professionals not only have to examine your body in its current state, but they also must consider how well your body has behaved in the past.

You probably are familiar with the term “medical history.”  It is an essential component to a doctor’s decisions when treating you and every other patient, and even to making a diagnosis.

But, where does this medical history come from? Who’s keeping all of your records of doctor’s visits, diagnoses, shots and vaccines, sicknesses, and other important medical information?

Everything that you will ever come to a doctor for gets put on your long record of information -- on this thing known as a medical history.  And it’s absolutely important that it gets into the hands of every medical professional, no matter who they are, before treating you, diagnosing you, prescribing you medicine, or operating on you.

And those who keep that oh-so important medical history safe and accurate are in the field known as Health Information Management.

If you are considering going into the medical field, are pretty good at keeping track of things, analyzing data, and protecting records, then becoming a Health Information Manager might be the job for you.  And it’s an extremely special and important one, too!

But, what exactly is Health Information Management, and what does one do when that’s their job? How much do they get paid? How much education is needed to become one?

I will be answering all of those questions and much more in this guide to understanding the job of Health Information Management.

What Is Health Information Management?

health information management

Before we go any further, it is important to stop and ask this question: what exactly is Health Information Management, and what are some of the basic responsibilities of people in this field?

According to Ahima.org, Health Information Management is “the practice of acquiring, analyzing, and protecting digital and traditional medical information vital to providing quality patient care.”

Ahima.org then goes on to say that Health Information Management actually goes beyond the medical field, as it is a combination of business, science, and information technology.

So, from this, we can learn that Health Information Management professionals play the important duty of not only keeping the patient’s health information and medical history safe, but they also play a heavy role in making sure that the patient is given the best quality care according to their own personal, medical needs.

But, what does a day in the life of a Health Information Management professional look like, and what are some of the basic responsibilities that they have?

As a Health Information Management professional, you must understand many things about several medical care providers, from small clinics and doctors’ offices to large city hospitals.  This means knowing everything you can about the workflow of the systems and organizations, as well as how to work and apply all of the technology there.

Additionally, any Health Information Management professional is highly trained in all of this information, as well as information management technology itself.

It is a Health Information Management professional’s job to not only keep the records of patient’s medical conditions and history, but to also play an active and important role in the daily operations management of health information, and must know the ins and outs of electronic health records.

This is because, as part of their job, they must keep the patient’s medical information safe, and also ensure that it is complete and accurate.

As far as education goes, in order to become a health information management professional, a Bachelor’s degree is necessary.

When working for your Bachelor’s degree as a Health Information Management student, you will expect to be taking classes such as automation of health information, human resources in healthcare, quality assurance and statistics, project management in health information management, and more.

However, not just any study program will do.  If you want to graduate with your Bachelor’s degree with all of the credentials you need to become a health information management professional, then it is important that you make sure that the school and program you choose is accredited by the CAHIIM.

After completing your Bachelor’s degree, then you can move onto becoming a certified Health Information Management professional through gaining certification.

The Health Information Management Work Environment

Now that you know the basics of a Health Information Management professional’s day to day duties and responsibilities, it’s time to discuss another very important question before moving onward…

What kind of work environment is a health information management professional surrounded by?

As a health information management professional, you would be able to work in a fairly wide variety of places and settings.  These places include hospitals, private physician offices, clinics, and other medical care providers and organizations.

Their job titles and functions can also vary, as being a health information management professional means that you can serve in multiple functions and positions, such as bridge roles, connecting clinical, operational, and administrative.

Health Information Management professionals do more than just store, protect, and provide data, however.  They are also actively involved in knowing the ins and outs of everything a patient has experienced.

The things that make it onto a person’s medical history and, therefore, end up in the trustworthy hands of a health information management professional, include physical examinations, blood tests, urine tests, lab results, x-rays, radiology procedures, lab results, and much more.

Health Informatics In Health Information Management

health informatics

A very essential part of the health information management field is a science known as Health Informatics. This science plays a huge role in the duties, responsibilities, and job description of health information management, so it is vital to understand what it means if you are considering going into the field.

According to Ahima.org, Health Informatics can be defined as “a science that defines how health information is technically captured, transmitted, and utilized.”

What this definition means is that Health Informatics serve to the actual delivery of a patient’s healthcare information, through various things such as information systems, informatics principles, and information technology.

Health Informatics can also be recognized as a makeup of several different disciplines and subject areas, which include management science, management engineering principles, healthcare delivery, public health, safety of the patient, computer technology, and information science.

This informatics include four specialized and focus research areas, all of which reflect different disciplines.

These four research and subject areas are…

  • Medical and Bio Informatics
  • Nursing Informatics
  • Public Health Informatics
  • Applied Informatics

Most Health Information Management students are attracted to the fourth research focus, which is Applied Informatics.  This includes transporting all of the patient’s medical information through electronic means, and addresses process, policy, and technological solutions.

Health Information Management Professional Salary

money bills

If you were to become a Health Information Management professional, and if you are considering becoming one right now, then it is important to know how much you should expect to be paid.

First of all, it is important to notice that even within the field of Health Information Management, there are various positions that one can be offered and hold, as we discussed earlier.

In this section, I will focus on the salaries of two of the main positions in health information management: the director position and the manager position.

As a Health Information Management director, you would be given the responsibilities of overseeing other staff members, business planning, as well as developing budgets.  You would also direct the health information management service areas, and ensuring that everyone in the process is in compliance with the state and federal laws and regulations.

Directors also monitor and supervise how the department resources are being used, as well as assessing the effectiveness of it.

And finally, directors also develop the computer systems that record and store all of the patients’ data and medical records.

According to PayScale.com, a Health Information Management director can make as little as $43,373 or as much as $119,526 annually.  However, what determines one’s salary is the past experience you’ve had in the field.

Now, the Health Information Management manager can be making as little as $35,812 or as much as $80,573.  However, the median salary for a manager is $55,062 annually.

Health Information Management Is A Field Important To The Entire Medical Community

doctor with pens in the pocket

If you have been considering going into the medical field, then thinking about becoming part of the Health Information Management professionals is a decision worth consideration.

These medical professionals play a very important role in the entire workflow, systems, and medical care provision for every healthcare organization there is, from private clinics to large hospitals.

So, if you are going to make the move and join the number of medical professionals, then why not be one of the most important people in the field there is?

Without health information management professionals, there would be no patient medical history, no record of data, and no history of previous conditions, things that are vital in determining the current state of a patient’s wellbeing.