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 that the number of jobs in the health services and medical management field, which includes health information managers, will grow at a rate of 32% between 2020 and 2030. With such strong projected job growth, many students are seeking information on how to become a health information manager. Earning a Master of Health Administration (MHA) degree could be a great first step in a health care information management career.
Health Information Manager Job Description
The health information manager job description can vary, but generally includes duties and responsibilities such as the following:
- Overseeing and ensuring the security of patient records, patient histories, lab results, X-rays, clinical information, demographic information, and other health data
- Making sure only authorized personnel are able to access and make changes to patient data
- Researching and staying up to date on policies and laws regarding health information systems
- Overseeing the maintenance and organization of all the health-related data in the organization, with a goal of optimizing efficiency
- Keeping systems updated according to changes in technology
- Participating 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 may be 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, and health information systems. Individuals can then earn a master’s degree in health administration or a related field to better qualify for health information management roles.
2. Gain Experience
Health information professionals function in administrative, operational, and clinical capacities. Relevant work experience and skills are becoming increasingly valuable in the profession. As a result, those with a strong record of experience and training 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 Skills
A number of health information management skills are essential to success in the field:
- Success in this field requires technical skills, including familiarity with key health information management software.
- Health information managers need communication skills, allowing them to talk with physicians and nurses about implementing IT solutions.
- Critical thinking skills are important for health information managers, as they must identify problems and develop solutions to make their organization more efficient, secure, and compliant.
- Management and leadership skills are valuable in the role, particularly for those tasked with overseeing other health IT team members.
Health Information Management Careers
For those interested in how to become health information managers, learning about the career options available can be helpful. 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 a variety of settings, and they may hold any of a number of job titles. Professionals may explore opportunities in specialized careers, including the health information management careers listed below.
Health Informatics Specialist
Some roles are more technical in nature. Health 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 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 Software
One of the keys to becoming a health information manager is gaining experience with the right software. Some common examples of using health information management software include:
- Electronic health records (EHR), which allow for the easy and safe storage and transfer of important patient records, promoting collaboration across an organization
- Practice management software, which can be used to automate billing, scheduling, and other day-to-day operations
- Patient portal systems, which provide an easy way for patients to log in to see their records and pay their bills
- Remote patient monitoring platforms, which enable a wide range of telehealth services
Health Information Management Salary
The BLS categorizes health information managers as medical and health services managers. The median annual health information management salary was $104,280 as of 2020. The top 10% of earners made more than $195,630.
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) can help students prepare for the highly important yet challenging role of a health information manager. The MHA curriculum can provide 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 capabilities. 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.
The online Master of Health Administration program at Regis College can help graduates obtain success in the growing field of health information management. If you are curious about how to become a health information manager and want to advance the data impact of a health care organization, learn more about Regis College’s MHA degree program today.