Are you organized, confident, and a tech lover? Do you have a passion for medical technology?
Working in the healthcare sector as a medical records technician could be what you’ve always wanted.
Medical record technicians work in healthcare sector but don’t deal with hands-on patients care. They manage and organize health information.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of medical records technicians has been growing. The projection was 13% increase from 2016 to 2026. The demand rises as the medical workforce and population ages.
Some technicians specialize in medical coding systems. These systems categorize treatments, conditions, and diagnoses for insurance purposes. Others boost their training and education to join the medical information management field.
How to Become a Medical Records Technician
The path to join the health information technology field is not complicated. Check out these steps.
Pursue Proper Education
You must have a certificate or degree in medical technology or a degree in health information management to join this field. The certificate course takes up to six months while the associate degree takes two years.
Enroll in a program that you’re sure of its accreditation status. Best programs pass the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management standards.
High school students interested in this career should take classes in human health, math, computer, and business. There are many vocational schools offering health information technology courses. You can also opt for a unique online program to prepare you for work in the health industry.
A high number of employers favor certified or registered MRTs. To get a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) title, you must pass a certification exam. The American Health Information Management Association administers the exam.
Certification allows you to advance your studies and training, find a job quickly, and earn more. You will also work with a more significant workforce in the field.
Maintain the RHIT Title
To keep the title, AHIMA expects certified medical record technicians to enroll in 20 hours of advanced education after two years. As you gain additional training and experience, your chances of promotions and salary raise increases.
MRTs who pursue lifelong learning and earn a degree in health information technology get a better shot to advance into administrative and supervisory positions.
There are two associate degrees to choose from. The programs prepare you for certification and joining the workforce. They include:
- The Associate of Science (AS) in HIT
- Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in HIT
Choose an AAS degree if you’ve no plans of pursuing a bachelor’s degree in the future. If your long-term goals require you to earn a bachelor’s degree, an AS degree would be the best option.
An associate degree covers the following subjects:
- Introduction to health information systems
- Medical Coding
- Human physiology and anatomy
- Medical terminology
Health information technicians advance their career through pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in HIM. Graduates can take up managerial roles in HIT departments.
The coursework includes subjects such as:
- Disease pathology
- Health data management
- Health information legal aspects
- Health care financial concepts
In addition to a degree or diploma in Health Information Technology, MRTs can obtain other certifications. It increases individuals’ knowledge and marketability. The certifications include:
- Healthcare privacy and security
- Specialized certification for medical coding ( CCS or CCS-P)
- Healthy data analysis (CHDA)
- Certified tumor registry (CTR)
Duties of a Medical Record Technician
Doctors and other healthcare providers use patient’s medical information to diagnose and treat the patient accordingly. A medical records technician is useful in maintaining information on the patients’ medical history. Other primary responsibilities include:
- Manage and organize patients medical information
- Fill out paperwork
- Ensure proper storage of files
- Analyze electronic data
- Monitor electronic health records database
- Transfer data from physician records into patients medical record
- Coding diagnosis and procedures
- Retain information on patterns of disease, patient safety, treatment, and outcomes.
- Calculate survivor rates
MRTs must have advanced skills in computer technology and systems. Also, they should be familiar with standard medical terminologies and concepts. According to the United States Office of Personnel Management, MRTs must know the organization and medical record procedures.
A medical coder should have the ability to handle medical coding jobs with utmost accuracy. Other essential skills and qualities include:
- Good ethics
- Good judgment
- Attention to detail
Most MRTs work in hospitals. They’re assigned roles related to medical record quality and accuracy. They can also scan and index paper documentation for proper display in electronic form.
In case of deficiencies or discrepancies in the documentation, an MRT works with physicians, clinicians, or other professional staff to improve documentation accuracy. Besides hospitals, other settings that use medical information also offer medical billing and coding jobs. For instance:
- Insurance companies
- Nursing homes
- Physician practices
- Software vendors
- Government agencies
- Rehabilitation centers
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Home healthcare agencies
Salaries differ depending on experience, education, and geographical location. A study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that MRTs earn an average of 37,110 dollars per year. The top 10% earn 61,400 dollars while the bottom 10% earns 24,190 dollars every year.
Health information technicians with experience in electronic health record earn more. Medical coders are among the highest paid in the field. Jobs in government facilities and hospitals pay better compared to jobs in extended care facilities or doctor’s office.
As mentioned earlier, there will be a possible 13% increase in employment of MRTs between 2016 and 2026. This means the creation of 28000 jobs within ten years. The growth is much higher compared to other occupations in the US.
Technology is a significant boost to the growth of this profession. One way is through changing the organization and maintenance of health information. Health care institutions have to employ MRTs to help maintain electronic health records.
You now have an idea of what to do and expect if you wish to become a medical records technician.
If you are passionate about health and computer science, the journey will be more rewarding. You’ll love every working day.
Be sure to check out the career section of our blog for more updates on medical-related careers.