How to Become a Health Information Manager

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A computer, phone, stethoscope, and reading glasses on a desk.

Health information managers assume a pivotal role, especially in today’s data-driven health care world. They collect, process, and secure private patient medical records and other sensitive information.

Health information is a critical resource that can substantially affect the level of patient care that providers are able to deliver, and it is imperative that it is protected and used effectively. For example, health care providers can better conduct medical interventions when they have access to key health information, such as their patient’s medical history, symptoms, diagnoses, procedures, outcomes, and lab results.

Given the impact that health information managers can have, it is not surprising that the field is expanding. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates a 32% increase in employment opportunities in the health service and medical management industry between 2019 and 2029. With such predicted job growth, many students are seeking information on how to become a health information manager. Obtaining a Master of Health Administration (MHA) degree is an excellent place to start.

Health Information Manager Job Description

Health information managers oversee and ensure the security of patient records, patient histories, lab results, X-rays, clinical information, demographic information, and other health data. They make sure only authorized personnel are able to access and make changes to data. Additionally, they research and stay up to date on policies and laws regarding health information systems.

To ensure efficiency, health information managers oversee the maintenance and organization of all the health-related data in their organization. As information technology experts, health information managers keep their systems updated according to changes in technology. Managers also participate in conferences or training to learn about trends and advances in information management, including those that are specific to health care systems.

Steps to Becoming a Health Information Manager

Today, the expanding use of technology in health information management requires proficiency in technology systems, software, and hardware. The steps outlined here can help individuals who are wondering how to become a health information manager.

1. Earn a Degree

While a background in health care is useful, it is not always required to become a health information manager. Prospective health information managers should begin by earning a bachelor’s degree in health administration, nursing, business administration, health management, or a related field. Undergraduate students can build a foundation in accounting and budgeting, health services management, law and ethics, human resources administration, strategic planning, or health information systems. Individuals can then earn a master’s degree in health administration or a related degree to better qualify for health information manager roles.

2. Gain Experience

Health information professionals also function in administrative, operational, and clinical capacities. Relevant work experience and skills are becoming increasingly valuable in the profession as well. As a result, those with a strong record of experience and education in the traditional sciences, information technology, or administration can make excellent job candidates.

3. Obtain Certification

One way of improving the chances to qualify for more competitive jobs in this field is to obtain professional certifications from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). Employers place a high value on AHIMA certifications because they indicate an elevated level of dedication and skill. An RHIA (Registered Health Information Administrator) credential, in particular, demonstrates comprehensive knowledge of the medical, administrative, and legal requirements for health care delivery, as well as expertise in managing health information.

Health Information Management Careers

The need for health care services is only likely to increase as the U.S. population continues to age. Professionals in health information can work in myriad settings, and they may hold a number of job titles. Also, professionals may explore many opportunities to specialize in a particular area, including those listed below.

Health Informatics Specialist

Some roles are more technical in nature. Informatics — the science of technically capturing, transmitting, and utilizing health information — is one entry point into the health information field. Health informatics specialists are responsible for implementing a variety of technologies in their health care organizations. Their work may include building frameworks to digitally manage health information, or maximizing the use of software and hardware to store patient information. Health informatics specialists protect and maintain patient data by innovating ways to capture and store this information for easy accessibility.

Director of Health Information Management

The health information director profession provides meaningful challenges. Professionals regularly analyze how data is organized, and skillfully integrate the fields of science, business, and information technology. They exercise the highest ethical standards in dealing with confidential and sensitive information, and they supervise operations as they relate to information systems. Health information directors must also have superb communication skills to bridge the clinical, operational, and administrative aspects of health care. This, in turn, enables staff to smoothly, accurately, and efficiently carry out daily health care routines and procedures.

Clinical Informatics Manager

Health information managers might also choose to work in more clinical environments or in administrative roles as clinical informatics managers. These managers are responsible for overseeing all the employees who work in information technology or informatics. As technology continues to progress and its use in health care becomes more widespread, clinical informatics managers will be called on to stay well ahead of the technology curve, effectively adapting a variety of new tools and advancements for data storage and accessibility.

Health Information Management Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) categorizes health information managers as medical and health services managers. Professionals in the field earned an annual median salary of $100,980 as of May 2019, according to the BLS. Health information managers who are highly experienced can earn more than $189,000.

Those interested in how to become health information managers should know that competitive salaries and a thriving job market are only part of the story. Many opportunities exist to specialize within the field according to individual interests and skills, providing an avenue for even greater job satisfaction and flexibility.

Pursue Your Career in Health Information Management

A master’s degree in health administration (MHA) offers prospective students the opportunity to prepare for the highly important yet challenging role of a health information manager. The MHA curriculum provides insight into the many aspects of health care administration, including business, policy, and patient care perspectives.

Additionally, MHA programs focus on developing leadership abilities, professional and interpersonal communication skills, technical literacy, and strategic planning. This well-rounded education provides a solid base for pursuing career opportunities in a range of professional settings, including the information technology departments of large medical institutions. Students may earn an MHA in as few as 24 months, opening doors to an array of rewarding careers in health information management.

The online Master of Health Administration program at Regis College is structured to prepare graduates for success in the growing job market of health information management. If you are interested in how to become a health information manager, and want to advance the data impact of a health care organization, learn more about our MHA degree program today.

Recommended Readings

What Is Health Policy?

Online Master of Health Administration Curriculum

Health care Administration vs. Health care Management

Sources:

AHIMA, “Health Information”

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Medical and Health Services Managers

Health IT Analytics, “How Teamwork Fuels Award Winning Health Information Management”

Houston Chronicle, “What Personal Qualifications & Skills Are Required to Be a Health Information Manager?”

PayScale, “Average Clinical Informatics Manager Salary”