How to Become a Health Information Manager – Steps, Education, & Certification

Health Information Manager is almost a self-defining term. As evident, a Health Information Manager or an HIM is the one who works with digital and traditional data related to the health of the patient. There are many diverse aspects of it. Test results, diagnosis, medical history of a patient, procedures, committee meetings, budget preparations, online checking are all a part of Health Information Management.

Their position in the health institution is vital to the accuracy of treatment. Becoming a Health Information Manager, your job would be to ensure data quality, accessibility, security, and accuracy. From coding to regular audits, an HIM’s job is versatile, and you end up with more specialized duties depending on the field you choose.

What is Health Information Management?

When you look at Health Information Management, you are setting your eyes on a profession that aims at acquiring, studying, analyzing, and securing traditional and digital medical information related to a patient. There is not one single field associated with it. A Health Information Manager amplifies his dimensions throughout Business, Science, and Information Technology. If you are looking to become a Certified Health Information Manager, here is what you need to go through.

Steps to Become a Health Information Manager

To become a Health Information Manager, you need to travel a pathway with various fresh college graduate options to programs that offer extensive healthcare training. Get along the following step-by-step procedure and become a health information manager.

Step 1 –Get a Bachelor’s Degree

First things first, if you do not have a medical background, you start by obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Health Information Management. Getting yourself enrolled in a Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management degree is the one way to do it. Ensure the chosen program is accredited by the Commission of Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM).

Step 2 – Picking Associate Degree as an Alternative

If you have trouble getting into a four-year degree plan due to some obligations, then you can pick an Associate Degree to go by. However, you get limited opportunities under this program. Plus, this degree will only prepare you for health information technician. You do eventually need a bachelor’s degree if you wish to become a manager.

Step 3 – Attaining the Master’s Degree

The ultimate training gets done in this stage. When you step in for a master’s degree in Health Information Management, you are preparing for the most senior position in the field. Your managerial skills are polished, and you are further made to study healthcare data analytics, legal issues in health information technology systems, and much more.

Once you have attained the master’s degree, you are all set to be called a health information manager. However, there exist vivid possibilities to increase your credibility by attaining certifications. These are discussed below.

Role and Responsibilities of Health Information Managers

As easy as it seems to maintain and secure patient information, it is quite the opposite. After you become a Health Information Manager, your role and responsibilities take a steep rise, and from there on, you step into the world of complex data. Here are some of them to go by.

  • Documentation: The first and foremost aspect of information governance is documentation. As a Health Information Manager, you are subjected to implement a process that indulges data integrity, data categorizing, data privacy, and, as mentioned several times, data accuracy.
  • Maintain an Alliance: You are required to collaborate with nurses, case managers, medical coders, transcriptionists, compliance analysts, administrative staff, financial offers, and possibly every odd individual that comes from the door. You must work in harmony with each one of these and ensure proper monitoring of data.
  • Compliance: Well, as much as you think you are only related to all the second parties, your connections go way beyond. A Health Information Manager has to comply with federal laws, state laws, and all the standards related to record management. You may also need to report data to agencies such as CDC and CMS.
  • Prepare Data: Usually, a lot is going on in healthcare departments. The clinical data requires monitoring, studying, observing, preparing, and reporting it to the concerned officials. Before any of this reaches the latter, a Health Information Manager must prepare this data accurately and in a clearly understood form.
  • Project Management: A bunch of projects usually involve Health Information Managers addressing them to the committees. A Certified Health Information Manager is taught leadership and management skills to ensure the projects can be conducted appropriately under his guidance.
  • Developing Budgets and Creating Opportunities: Picking Health Information Management as your career gives you the task of preparing budgets for different departments. Further, you are also given the duty to look for opportunities to align funds properly. All of this together helps for improving the healthcare process.

Skills Required to Become a Successful Health Information Manager

Every profession requires an individual to possess a certain set of skills. It is no different with the Health Information Manager. To set yourself apart from your rivals and deem some extra points in front of your employer, you must acquire the following skills.

Communication Skills

As a Health Information Manager, you are expected to contact individuals from varied sections in the setting. All you have is people asking you about the data. Hence, there exists a need to have communication skills both verbally and in a written manner. It would be best if you are precise with your words and, on the other hand, be very clear about the records you share in writing.

Technology Skills

Since the medical field is now getting regular developments in terms of digital media, it is now the dire need of every Health Information Manager to possess the technological skillset. Health Information Management Certification allows you to attain skills required to work on networks, server room applications, electronic databases, and basic computer applications. So, whether you are a newbie or an experienced healthcare manager, you should level yourself with the digital platform.

Critical Thinking Skills

Dealing with people from diverse departments requires you to be a critical thinker. You never know when a person from next door will ask you about the medical history of a particular patient. Plus, while working with data, you may come across errors that need to be addressed. At this point, your critical thinking comes in handy to solve the issue that very moment.

Leadership Skills

Health Information Management Programs give you an insight into how a leader carries his team. Besides this, you are also made to stand in front and deliver a presentation regarding a basic piece of development. Being a Health Information Manager, you are also given the duty to carry out a process involving multiple teams. Leadership skills come in handy at this point.

Medical Knowledge

The medical setting is occupied by various terminologies, coding, abbreviations, and much more. As a health information manager, you are not supposed to work with only first aid boxes. Instead, there is a whole spectrum of medical knowledge lying there to catch your attention. Gain the technical knowledge of drugs and coding to enhance your credibility.

Other Soft Skills

Communication is not the only parameter that needs to be taken into account while counting the soft skills of a health information manager. What would happen if there stands a long queue with impatient people asking for some information? How about your superior asking those files in urgent? Tackling such situations is a daily job of an HIM. And soft skills are a way to do that.

Medical Coding Certification

Medical Coders are always in sublime demand throughout the field of healthcare. If you are eyeing on becoming a medical coder, you need to have a thorough knowledge of one or more code sets, namely, Current Procedural Terminology (CPT), ICD-10-CM, and Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) Level II.

The three most common certifications are Certified Professional Coder (CPC), Certified Coding Specialist (CCS), and Certified Medical Coder (CMC).

  • CPC Certification is offered by the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC). You are required to have an associate degree from an accredited institution to sit in this. The exam contains 150 questions divided into 12 sections.
  • CCS Certification is offered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). You are required to have either of the three prerequisites involving a diploma, two years of medical coding experience, or an existing medical coding certification alongside one year of experience. The exam covers eight topics.
  • CMC Certification is offered by the Practice Management Institution (PMI). As for the eligibility criterion, you need to have at least one year of professional coding experience. The exam consists of approximately 133 questions that are not in a multiple-choice question format. Instead, it would help if you filled in the blank spaces.
  • Specialized Certification is a type of Certification offered by AAPC and AHIMA besides the three mentioned above. Under this, you have got Certified Outpatient Coder (COC), Certified Inpatient Coder (CIC), Certified Professional Coder-Payer (CPC-P), Certified Risk Adjustment Coder (CRC), to name a few.

Medical Coding Certification Renewal

For renewing the Medical Coding Certificate, you have to go through two steps. The first step is where one needs to pay the annual membership fee. The second step is to accumulate Continuing Education Credits (CE). Credit score varies from organization to organization.

Licensing Requirements for Health Information Managers

Health Information Management gives dire importance to the license and certification of the manager. However, it depends significantly on whether the employer wants to have a certified or registered man on board. Although, if you are looking to get yourself a license, you need to get registered first.

  • Rhit

    A Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) is of great value to the employer. For this, you should be carrying an associate degree offered by AHIMA. The certification allows you to get the crux of coding, HER, computer applications, and data accessibility. The exam is conducted on the computer, and the result is displayed either pass or fail.

  • Rhia

    AHIMA offers the Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) Certificate. Under this, you are prepared for analyzing data related to clinical trials, disease management, utilization, and more. To be eligible for this, you do require a bachelor’s or a master’s degree. The exams are computer-based conducted at the VUE testing centers.

  • Cphims

    Followed by this is the Certified Professional Health Information and Management Systems certification (CPHIMS). Offered by HISMSS, this step allows you to gain the utmost credibility in front of your employer. It shows your competency and denotes that your knowledge pool is quite profound. For this, you require a bachelor’s degree and five years of experience. Make sure that you spend a minimum of three years in a healthcare setting. Other than this, you can also apply with a master’s degree and a minimum of three years of experience. Please make sure that two of them are in a healthcare setting.

Quick Facts about Health Informatics

It is more than just a Job

With the growing demand for health information managers due to the upgrade in technology, Health Informatics has become a lifelong career for individuals. It is no more a 9 to 6 job. Instead, this is a way to enter a world where science, business, and information technology go side by side with you.

Computer Technology will become the Essential Requirement

As much as an aged individual hates to sit in front of a screen, it will undoubtedly become inevitable to evade it. The time is no far when employers will start asking about your computer skills before hiring you. Therefore, if you are stepping into this field, you should carry technical knowledge.

It has High Earning Potential

The survey conducted by Health Care Information and Management System Society depicted the average nursing informatics salary in 2014 above $100,000 per annum. Well, it may be enough to say that this salary revolves just around the nursing department. There is more to earn when complex technologies get involved.

Your Computer Learning can come in Handy

If you feel like your knowledge of computer applications is going down the drain, then this career is here to extract the maximum potential out of it. The procedure of storing, sorting, processing, and analyzing data is all done on computer technology. Plus, you now have the online option as well. It is also quite valuable in this field.

Job Outlook for Health Information Managers

The Bureau of Labor Statistics showcased that the jump is estimated to grow 8% from 2019 to 2029, much higher than the average job growth rate. Hence, with new technologies and technological minds floating in the market, we can expect roughly 30,000 odd jobs to develop in just a short span. This alone eliminates the question of ‘why’ and right away brings forward the main topic of how to become a health information manager!

Speaking of the current scenario, according to salary.com, as of July 28, 2021, the salary range of a Health Information Manager falls somewhat between $80,177 and $115,039. Depending on the education, Certification, and experience, you can expect a heavier pocket at the end of the month.

Here is the Health Information Manager’s Salary in Major Cities.

City Name Average Salary
San Francisco, CA $114,661
Washington, DC $102,113
Miami, FC $89,299
Dallas, TX $91,133
New York, NY $110,350

Source:Salary.com (as of July 28, 2021)

Health Information Manager Salary

Future Career Path in Health Information Technology 

The future looks so very bright for the aspirants looking to pick health informatics as their career. Once you have set ablaze on this path, you should know what is there to look forward to. Here are some advancements that you can take up after you have gained some experience.

  • Supervisor: Health Informatics allows you to get the position of coding manager or supervisor. Under this, the job is to hire and train new employees. Further, it also delegates the responsibility to communicate with other providers.
  • Cardiac Coder: With a handsome pay amount, this job is also an excellent opportunity for career advancement. The authority and responsibility of maintaining medical treatment, coding systems, and chart as and when needed.
  • Decision Support Analyst: Depending upon the experience you gain, you may find the opportunity to become a decision support analyst. There is no better opportunity than being a crucial individual for the decision-making process.
  • Director of Information Services: Once you reach a higher authority, you are asked to conduct a meeting to discuss errors or issues in patient care. In-service sessions and preparation of audits are all a part of it.
  • Other Advancements: The field is not limited to these four or five advancements. A Health Information Manager can become a chief information officer, data quality manager, client service manager, patient advocate, utilization manager, to name a few.

Resourceful Links for Health Informatics

Resources for Medical Coders

Medical Billing and Coding Career

Once you are done with your education, this is where you attain the knowledge regarding medical billing and coding. How to get certified? How to prepare for job? And much more.

Exam Preparation and Coaching

Exam preparation, webinars, and other educational tools are allotted to you. These are helpful when your exam prep is on a high.

A Forum for Discussion

Get advice on careers, schools, colleges, and a vivid range of topics about billing and coding. Further, a discussion regarding vivid health careers and advice is offered.

Explore Related Health Careers

Before commencing your journey to become a medical coder, look at career paths, educational options, and other resources of medical coding as well. A bunch of resources awaits you here.

Medical Coding Training & Resources

American Association of Professional Coders

Designed precisely for the coders in healthcare. Get the entire information regarding coding, billing, auditing, healthcare compliance, and practice management at AAPC.

American Medical Association

The leading healthcare organization in the States offers its newsletter apps for a bunch of coding resources. Great for medical coders who are looking to have an insight into the job.

Healthcare Billing and Management Association

Get in-depth education, Certification, and collaboration for health and coding at HBMA. From press releases to government relations, you get a whole lot to uplift your skillset.

Medical Group Management Association

Take part in industry events, network opportunities, and other stats by MGMA. An expansive network filled with professionals and resources to instigate substantial growth in your career.

The Professional Association of Healthcare Coding Specialists

PAHCS offers a common network for coding specialists to enhance healthcare aspects.

American Academy of Professional Coders

Take a look at all the services precisely designed to benefit your medical practice. Get all the listed certification opportunities alongside education and training.

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Written by : Casey Gardner

Casey Gardner is both a healthcare support professional and an accomplished content creator.  She has been working as a certified health care professional with marketable skills as a physician assistant,  and a qualified medical assistant for last two decades. She has dedicated her nursing career to produce over hundreds of content pieces since 2001, and her work has been published both online as well as offline.

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