About Health Information Management
American Health Information Management Association
Founded in 1928, AHIMA is the premier association of health information management (HIM) professionals worldwide. Serving 52 affiliated component state associations and more than 103,000 health information professionals, AHIMA is the leading authority for "HIM knowledge" and widely respected for its esteemed credentials and rigorous professional education and training.
Health information is the data related to a person’s medical history, including symptoms, diagnoses, procedures, and outcomes. Health information records include patient histories, lab results, x-rays, clinical information, and notes. A patient’s health information can be viewed individually, to see how a patient’s health has changed; it can also be viewed as a part of a larger data set to understand how a population’s health has changed, and how medical interventions can change health outcomes.
Health information management (HIM) is the practice of acquiring, analyzing, and protecting digital and traditional medical information vital to providing quality patient care. It is a combination of business, science, and information technology.
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By studying health information, students will acquire a versatile yet focused skill set incorporating clinical, information technology, leadership, and management skills. Health information professionals use their knowledge of information technology and records management to form the link between clinicians, administrators, technology designers, and information technology professionals.
Constantly evolving regulations and technologies allow for lifelong learning and continued professional development. As healthcare advances, health information provides the patient data needed to successfully navigate the changes. As a result, health information professionals can expect to be in high demand as the health sector continues to expand. Demand is on the rise at all levels of education and credentialing. There are approximately 12,000 to 50,000 new jobs anticipated by 2017, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics cites medical records and health information technicians as one of the 20 fastest growing occupations in the US.
On top of strong job prospects, competitive salaries also await graduates. More than half of new health information graduates with bachelor's degrees start with salaries in the $30,000 to $50,000 range. By five years out, one can earn upwards of $50,000 to $75,000 annually. Most new health information graduates with associate's degrees jump right in and earn $20,000 to $30,000 annually. These figures are just averages—many professionals report higher salaries.
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To be eligible for the discounted Student membership rate a student cannot hold an AHIMA credential or has never been registered for an exam, and must be currently enrolled in a formal certificate or degree-granting program relevant to AHIMA’s purpose (including, but not limited to, CAHIIM-accredited or PCAP/ACCP-approved coding programs). Student membership is valid for one year from your join date. An individual can be a Student member for up to four years if all eligibility requirements are met.
Student Note: Student membership dues are $49 and they allow a wide variety of discounts. This includes eligibility for a special student membership price for the ORHIMA Conference in your 2nd year and reduced member pricing for purchasing AHIMA books, exams, and more.
Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education
The Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) strives to provide the public with effective and consistent quality monitoring of health informatics and health information management (HIM) programs through maintenance of accreditation processes.
CAHIIM is the globally recognized and trusted accreditation organization for Health Informatics and Health Information Management education programs to ensure the development of a workforce that meets the challenge of an information-intensive environment and its impact on global health.
Commission on Certification for Health Informatics and Information Management
The Commission on Certification for Health Informatics and Information Management (CCHIIM) is an AHIMA commission dedicated to assuring the competency of professionals practicing HIIM. CCHIIM serves the public by establishing, implementing, and enforcing standards and procedures for certification and recertification of HIIM professionals. CCHIIM provides strategic oversight of all AHIMA certification programs. This standing commission of AHIMA is empowered with the sole and independent authority in all matters pertaining to both the initial certification and ongoing recertification (certification maintenance) of HIIM professionals.
Registered Health Information Technician
Professionals holding the RHIT credential are health information technicians who:
- Ensure the quality of medical records by verifying their completeness, accuracy, and proper entry into computer systems.
- Use computer applications to assemble and analyze patient data for the purpose of improving patient care or controlling costs.
- Often specialize in coding diagnoses and procedures in patient records for reimbursement and research. An additional role for RHITs is cancer registrars - compiling and maintaining data on cancer patients.
With experience, the RHIT credential holds solid potential for advancement to management positions, especially when combined with a bachelor's degree.
Student Note: Finishing the Health Information Management program at COCC meets the eligibility requirements for taking the RHIT exam.
Registered Health Information Administrator
Working as a critical link between care providers, payers, and patients, the RHIA:
- Is an expert in managing patient health information and medical records, administering computer information systems, collecting and analyzing patient data, and using classification systems and medical terminologies.
- Possesses comprehensive knowledge of medical, administrative, ethical and legal requirements and standards related to healthcare delivery and the privacy of protected patient information.
- Manages people and operational units, participates in administrative committees, and prepares budgets.
- Interacts with all levels of an organization - clinical, financial, administrative, and information systems - that employ patient data in decision-making and everyday operations.
Job opportunities for RHIAs exist in multiple settings throughout the healthcare industry. These include the continuum of care delivery organizations, including hospitals, multispecialty clinics and physician practices, long-term care, mental health, and other ambulatory care settings. The profession has seen significant expansion in nonpatient care settings, with careers in managed care and insurance companies, software vendors, consulting services, government agencies, education, and pharmaceutical companies.
Student Note: After finishing the Health Information Management program at COCC, students can move on to an accredited bachelors program to then become eligible to take the RHIA exam.
Certified Coding Associate
The CCA credential distinguishes coders by exhibiting commitment and demonstrating coding competencies across all settings, including both hospitals and physician practices. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a shortage of more than 50,000 qualified HIM and HIT workers by 2015. Becoming a CCA positions you as a leader in an exciting and growing market. CCAs:
- Exhibit a level of commitment, competency, and professional capability that employers are looking for
- Demonstrate a commitment to the coding profession
- Distinguish themselves from non-credentialed coders and those holding credentials from organizations less demanding of the higher level of expertise required to earn AHIMA certification
Based upon job analysis standards and state-of-the-art test construction, the CCA designation has been a nationally accepted standard of achievement in the health information management (HIM) field since 2002. More than 8,000 people have attained the certification since inception.
Student Note: In addition to being able to take the RHIT exam after completing the Health Information Management program at COCC, students are also eligible to take the CCA exam.