Working in health information management is an exciting and rewarding career – these professionals help improve the quality of patient care and support individuals to lead happy, healthy lives. And with all the technological innovations and changes rapidly bringing the field into the future, there is big demand for motivated HIM professionals at a variety of organizations, from those in the health care system to those outside of it.
The field of health information management as a whole is forecast to continue its rapid growth over the next several years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Medical records and health information technicians have a predicted job growth rate of 15 percent between 2014 and 2024, while medical and health services managers, a category in which the BLS classifies health information managers, have an estimated job growth rate of 17 percent. Both of these rates are much faster than the average for other occupations.
The most sought-after professionals in health care information management will have a strong set of skills that are grounded in foundational knowledge in the field while responding to current and future trends. Here are several of the top characteristics hiring managers want in an HIM graduate:
Effective communication skills
A large part of an HIM professional’s job is translating medical code and complex regulations into tangible ways that healthcare providers can enhance their patient care and workflows. This duty requires HIM employees to have top-notch spoken and written communication skills, since the systems that a provider uses depends on the value that it brings to the organization as a whole. From urging a hospital’s leadership to invest money into a new electronic health records system to speaking with insurance representatives, HIM professionals will have to communicate complex technical concepts in an engaging and easy-to-understand way. They may also have to train doctors, nurses and other individuals in new electronic systems, so effective communication skills for HIM graduates is key across the board.
Hiring managers will want to see that HIM graduates have received their Registered Health Information Administrator certification, which is achieved through passing the RHIA exam. The exam is administered by the American Health Information Management Association, and is designed to prepare health information management graduates to serve as “a critical link between care providers, payers and patients,” and to work in upper-level roles at a variety of health care organizations, including hospitals, physician practices and ambulatory care, as well as positions at nonpatient care settings such as insurance companies or software vendors, as AHIMA explained.
To be eligible to take the exam, individuals must complete a bachelor’s or master’s degree program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education. The University of Cincinnati’s HIM program is fully accredited by CAHIIM and is designed to provide graduates with the knowledge and skills they need to take the RHIA exam.
Familiarity with trends and changes in the field
The health information management field undergoes constant change as technology advances – medical codes are updated and expanded, EHR systems evolve, new applications for data are created. HIM graduates who stay up to date on these trends and developments are in high demand by hiring managers. For example, some big changes in 2017 include MACRA, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, which goes into effect this year and changes how health care providers collect and submit patient information as well as how providers are reimbursed. Another big change to watch is the rise of Accountable Care Organizations and the greater focus on population health management and data interoperability that is accompanying it. HIM graduates who show they are in touch with these changes can be competitive job candidates.
A diverse skill set
A changing health care industry also means that many of the most in-demand positions in HIM will be ones that require hybrid skill sets, and are ones that were not around just a few decades ago, according to a study by Burning Glass Technologies. The study gave the example of the new job title Clinical Software Applications Specialist, who manages the systems that an organization uses and tracks information through various workflows. Some new positions even require skills outside of HIM’s typical realm, such as the rising Clinical Analyst role, which requires skills related to both nursing and IT, the study explained.
HIM professionals interested in advancing their career should choose a bachelor’s degree program at an accredited institution that prepares HIM graduates for the health informatics challenges and needs of tomorrow. The University of Cincinnati can help you build your skill set, reach your goals and have a rewarding career in HIM – learn more about its HIM bachelor’s degree program here.