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What is Health Information Management?

Health Information Management professionals discuss data

With the ever-growing volume of patient data, advancements in technology, and the increasing importance of data-driven decision-making, Health Information Management has become an integral part of healthcare administration and patient care.

Health Information Management (HIM) is centered around the strategic management of health information and electronic health records with responsibility for acquiring, analyzing and protecting digital and traditional medical information within healthcare organizations. The field of HIM encompasses responsibilities such as patient information privacy and security, coding, billing, and reimbursement.

“HIM professionals are responsible for determining how health information is going to be collected, what should be collected, how it should be stored, and who can access it,” said University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) Clinical Assistant Professor and HIM Graduate Program Director, Lois Hitchcock, MHA, RHIA, FAHIMA.

Benefits of Health Information Management

Health Information Management plays a crucial role in the healthcare industry, contributing to various aspects of patient care, administrative processes, and overall healthcare system improvement. Here are some key benefits of Health Information Management:

  1. Improving patient care: HIM ensures that relevant patient data is accurate and available when and where it’s needed. This leads to better diagnosis and treatment, as well as enables healthcare providers to make well-informed decisions about patient care. Patients can access their health information through patient portals, empowering them to take an active role in managing their own health.
  2. Ensuring security and compliance: Placing a strong emphasis on maintaining the security and confidentiality of patient information, HIM ensures that sensitive data is protected from unauthorized access. It also helps organizations adhere to legal and regulatory requirements regarding the privacy and security of patient information, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
  3. Streamlining processes: HIM streamlines administrative processes by automating tasks related to billing, coding, and documentation, reducing paperwork and increasing efficiency. Electronic health records (EHRs) facilitate quick and secure access to patient information, minimizing delays in care delivery. HIM provides easy access to staff performance, patient care data, and the ability to check the stability of organizational services.
  4. Empowering research and population health management: Facilitating population health management, HIM provides insight into trends, patterns, and risk factors within specific populations. Health data from health information systems can be used for research purposes, contributing to the development of new treatments, protocols, and healthcare policies.

Career Opportunities in Health Information Management

Professionals in HIM stand at the forefront of vast opportunities in evolving fields, which include traditional healthcare organizations such as hospitals, medical groups and clinics, HMOs, and health insurance organizations, plus non-traditional opportunities such as healthcare software companies, consulting, government agencies, pharmaceutical, legal and accounting firms, and academic research.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the field of Health Information Technologists and Medical Registrars will grow 16%, which is more than the average, between now and 2032. Graduates from the University of Illinois Chicago’s Master of Science in Health Informatics program typically serve in the following roles and find jobs with salaries in the $75,000 and $150,000 range*:

Hospital and Healthcare Systems:

  • Health Information Management Systems Director: $69,000 – $116,000 per year
  • Compliance Officer: $75,000 – $95,000 per year

Public Health Organizations

  • Public Health Informatics Specialist: $65,000 – $95,000 per year
  • Health Information Analyst: $60,000 – $86,000 per year

Health Insurance Companies:

  • Health Information Manager: $53,000 – $128,000 per year
  • Revenue Integrity Analyst: $83,000 – $106,000 per year

Healthcare Technology Companies:

  • Mapping Analyst, Intelligent Medical Objects: $72,000 – $107,000 per year
  • Healthcare Data Analyst: $71,000 – $106,000 per year

Pharmaceutical Companies:

  • Associate Director Health IT, Pharmaceuticals: $110,000 – $171,000 per year
  • Data Quality Analyst: $77,000 – $96,000 per year

Government and Regulatory Agencies:

  • Privacy Officer: $105,000 – $172,000 per year
  • Compliance Audit Services Director: $89,000 – $142,000 per year

Long-Term Care Facilities:

  • Clinical Quality Coordinator: $54,000 – $86,000 per year
  • Medical Records Coordinator: $37,000 – $46,000 per year

Consulting Firms:

  • Health Information Management Consultant: $50,000 – $106,000 per year
  • EHR Implementation Consultant: $67,000 – $104,000 per year

Health Information Management Educational Opportunities

Individuals looking to enter the field should consider pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree in health information management. UIC offers an online Bachelor of Science in HIM degree that provides students with skilled instruction in the management and use of information and information systems for healthcare planning and provision, resource allocation, and executive decision making. The BSHIM bachelor completion program is a 63-credit hour program and can be completed in 24 months.

UIC also offers an online Master of Science in HIM degree that is centered around the strategic management of health information and electronic health records with responsibility for acquiring, analyzing, and protecting digital and traditional medical information within healthcare organizations. The MSHIM degree is a 39-credit hour program and can be completed in 20 months.

The online HIM programs at UIC are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) and prepare graduates to take the Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA®) exam. UIC’s HIM curriculum introduces students to real-life scenarios through case studies that challenge their critical thinking and analytical skills. Armed with a RHIA® certificate, HIM professionals can show employers their commitment to understanding and excelling in their profession.

Future Trends in HIM

As technology continues to advance and the healthcare landscape evolves, several future trends are expected to shape the field of HIM. Some key trends to watch include:

  1. The integration of data analytics: Data analytics is having a transformative impact on the field of health information management, providing valuable insights that have enhanced clinical decision-making, improved patient outcomes, and optimized operations.
  2. Decentralization of the HIM department: Due to technological advances, healthcare facilities are experiencing a shift from the centralized model of the traditional HIM department. As health information is increasingly utilized in diverse ways across healthcare organizations, this transition is aimed at better aligning essential HIM functions with the dynamic landscape of evolving healthcare practices.
  3. An increase in policies: The ongoing revolution in health information technology has initiated a transformation in the HIM profession, and this transformation is set to continue. To keep pace with advancements in both technology and healthcare practices, HIM professionals must play an active role in shaping policies, ensuring they align with and keep pace with the swift adoption of technology.

*Salary data sources include Bureau of Labor Statistics, Glassdoor, PayScale, and industry-specific sources.

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