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Medical Records And Health Information Technicians Career

Career Description

A Medical Records and Health Information Technician compiles, processes, and maintains medical records of hospital and clinic patients in a manner consistent with medical, administrative, ethical,  legal, and regulatory requirements of the health care system.

Common Work Tasks

  • Organize and evaluate medical records for completeness and accuracy
  • Assemble patients’ health information, making sure that patients’ initial medical charts are complete, that all forms are completed and properly identified and authenticated, and that all necessary information is in the computer
  • Communicate with physicians and other health care professionals to clarify diagnoses or to obtain additional information
  • Use computer programs to tabulate and analyze data to improve patient care, better control cost, provide documentation for use in legal actions, or use in research studies
  • Assign a code to each diagnosis and procedure,  use classification systems software to assign the patient to one of several hundred “diagnosis-related groups,” or DRGs, which determines the amount for which the hospital will be reimbursed if the patient is covered by Medicare or other insurance programs using the DRG system
  • Maintain facility, regional, and national databases of cancer patients
  • Review patient records and pathology reports,  and assign codes for the diagnosis and treatment of different cancers and selected benign tumors
  • Conduct annual follow-ups on all patients in the registry to track their treatment, survival, and recovery
  • Protect the security of medical records to ensure that confidentiality is maintained
  • Process patient admission and discharge documents

Other Job Titles

Medical Records and Health Information Technician are also known by other titles, including:

  • Coding Specialists
  • Cancer Registrars
  • Health Services Managers
  • Abstractors

Education, Training,  and Experience

Education and Training
Medical records and health information technicians generally obtain an associate degree from a community or junior college. Typically, community and junior colleges offer flexible course scheduling or online distance learning courses. In addition to general education, coursework includes medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, legal aspects of health information, health data standards,  coding and abstraction of data, statistics, database management, quality improvement methods, and computer science. Applicants can improve their chances of admission into a program by taking biology, math, chemistry, health, and computer science courses in high school.

Certification and Licensure
Most employers prefer to hire Registered Health Information Technicians (RHIT), who must pass a written examination offered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). To take the examination, a person must graduate from a 2-year associate degree program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM).

  Some employers prefer candidates with experience in a health care setting.  Experience is valuable in demonstrating certain skills or desirable qualities.  It is beneficial for health information technicians to possess good communication skills, as they often serve as a liaison between health care facilities, insurance companies, and other establishments. Accuracy is also essential to technicians because they must pay close attention to detail. A candidate who exhibits proficiency with computers will become more valuable as health care facilities continue to adopt electronic medical records.


The median annual salary for a Medical Records and Health Information Technician is $29,000.  The top 10 percent earn more than $47,000,  and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $20,000.  Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of medical records and health information technicians are:

  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals - $33,120
  • Offices of Physicians - $27,000
  • Nursing Care Facilities - $31,290
  • Outpatient Care Centers  - $29,930
  • Federal Executive Branch - $42,000

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  18%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 30,000
  • Employment 2006 : 170,000
  • Employment 2016:  200,000
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