Health information management is a critical component of the data age in health care. As an increasing amount of information is collected from patients, physicians and other key players these groups need a growing number of professionals to ensure that the data is leveraged as effectively and efficiently as possible, opening new job opportunities for those with HIM experience.
If you are considering advancing your career with an HIM degree, the job market is probably an influential factor. Due to the increased importance placed on properly managing health care information, a qualified professional will have a variety of options for pursuing a career in HIM.
The growing importance of health information management
According to a report from MarketsandMarket, the global health care analytics market was worth $7.39 billion in 2016. That number is expected to increase to $24.55 billion by 2021. The organization reported that the rise will likely be the result of a number of factors, including:
- Rising efforts to curb spending in health care.
- Government initiatives to increase the adoption of EHRs.
- Advances in technology.
- Increased venture capitalism advancements.
- Efforts to improve patient outcomes.
- Availability of health care big data.
However, MarketsandMarkets also reported that one of the main challenges that could hinder this extreme growth is a lack of skilled professionals. This presents interesting new opportunities for aspiring HIM professionals who wish to meet that need. The organization predicted that important players in the market in the coming years will include the following U.S. companies: IBM Corporation (U.S.), Cerner Corporation (U.S.), Optum, Inc. (U.S.), SAS Institute, Inc. (U.S.), McKesson Corporation (U.S.), MedeAnalytics, Inc. (U.S.), Inovalon (U.S.), Allscripts Health Solutions (U.S.) Oracle Corporation (U.S.), Verisk Analytics (U.S.) and Health Catalyst (U.S.).
“We stand at an exciting moment,” Dr. Jean Drouin, CEO of health IT company Clarify Health, wrote in an article for Becker’s Health IT & CIO Review. “The recent availability and linking of large data sets; the advent of sophisticated analytical methods enabled by computing power; and the spread of smartphones that enable two-way communication with patients provide the pillars for real-time care guidance. The time has come to seize this opportunity to fix broken workflows and processes, and re-imagine the way care is delivered.”
Though there are many facets of this industry, health information management is specifically the component that is involved in the collection, protection and analysis of this particular type of data. It combines information technology with business and science, with important emphasis on workflow, to improve the care provided to patients. HIM professionals can work in most any health care environment, from large hospitals to private practices. Because of the work of HIM staff members, health care providers have the information they need when they need it to improve the safety and outcomes of their patients.
The health data that HIM professionals work with is used for a variety of purposes, such as:
- Supporting clinical decision-making.
- Increasing care coordination.
- Improving patient outcomes.
- Classifying treatments and diseases.
However, health information management is not just about collecting and leveraging data. It is also about protecting this sensitive information. According to the HIPAA Journal, there were 329 data breaches that involved 500 or more records in health care in 2016, with nearly 16.5 million records exposed. Examples like this emphasize the need for HIM professionals, increasing opportunities for qualified applicants in the workplace.
The job market for health information management professionals
The importance of this facet of working with health care data is reflected in the marketplace by the high demand for HIM professionals. For example, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for medical records and health information technicians is expected to increase by 15 percent between 2014 and 2024, adding an additional 29,000 jobs to the market. This is a promising sign for professionals looking to enter the field.
In addition to the growth in jobs in this industry, HIM has also seen promising statistics in terms of salaries beyond entry-level positions. The BLS reported that the median salary for medical records and health information technicians – roles which typically only require a postsecondary certificate and no college degree – is $37,110 a year. However, if you are interested in advancing your career through work experience and education, your expected salary will likely be much higher. According to data from the job and salary website Payscale, for example, the median annual salary for a health information management director is approximately $70,000. But depending on your experience and company, there is potential to earn much more. Payscale reported that in Atlanta, for example, the average annual salary is about $141,000, more than double the national average. Other cities where professionals have a good chance of earning above the national average, according to the source, include New York City, San Diego and St. Louis.
Your career in health information management
Whether you already working in the field or are an aspiring HIM professional, there is much you can do to stay competitive in the current job market. When you start out, the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) recommends focusing on building your experience, relationships and resume. Look for opportunities to volunteer or job shadow to gain insight into the field and consider joining AHIMA to grow your professional network.
An HIM degree can also be a valuable tool in your professional growth. While a formal degree is not required for every job, it can prepare you for more advanced roles, including leadership positions. If you have yet to complete an undergraduate degree, a bachelor’s in HIM may be the right decision. If you already have a bachelor’s in a related subject, you can build on that foundation while increasing your knowledge of specific HIM topics through a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in HIM.
Ready to take the next step in your HIM career? Consider enrolling in the University of Illinois in Chicago’s online Bachelors of Science in Health Information Management or Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Health Information Management. The specialized knowledge that you gain through furthering your education in this area can be an important stepping stone in advancing your career.