September 22, 2017
The baccalaureate degree Health Information Management Program is in Candidacy Status, pending accreditation review by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM).
According to The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), health information management comprises a broad range of data related to patient medical histories and medical records. Professionals working in this field compile, record, manage and analyze essential information related to patient symptoms, diagnoses, procedures and outcomes. Records are essential for individualized assessment of how a patient's health has changed over time, as well as in understanding global trends in population health, treatment and how medical interventions can affect health.
Management positions in this field combine business, science and information technology, using state-of-the-art technology applications. Electronic health records are central to the daily operations management of healthcare facilities. The professionals who manage this information are responsible for comprehensive patient medical records, disease classification and treatment, and for standardization of its clinical, financial and legal uses in healthcare.
In the past couple of decades, recordkeeping methods have gradually-and dramatically-shifted from paper to electronic filing, storage and analysis. Darla D. Branda, MA, RHIA, faculty lead, Health Information Management (HIM) at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), began her career in health information technology (HIT) while working at a 900-bed hospital in St. Louis, and provides some perspective on the evolution of the field. "Back then, the archives of paper records included more than a million boxed upstairs, with more files stored downstairs and offsite too," she recalled. "Now, with electronic recordkeeping, you can not only store and review files more efficiently, you can also run reports based on coded data-such as all patients with heart attacks in the last six months. Patient care and patient outcomes have both improved as a result."
In addition, Branda added, "The home health care field now relies upon telemedicine and monitoring that may be done from a distance, such as pacemaker and diabetes test results. Healthcare workers who travel with laptops can make recommendations for patient care and treatment plans and transmit reports or text messages to physicians to allow more responsive care overall. And, in the past, patients had to wait by the phone for a doctor to call them with test results. Now, with secure patient portals, they can receive answers and information more quickly."
The field of HIM is strictly regulated by rules, regulations and compliance standards to address security and privacy issues related to these improvements in patient care. Two organizations oversee the consistency and quality of health information systems:
The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) is a well-respected authority on rigor in professional education and training. It has played a leadership role in the effective management of health data and medical records designed to deliver quality healthcare to the public. The AHIMA advocates for the HIM profession and for development of healthcare information governance principles. The Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM ) closely monitors the effectiveness and consistent quality of HIT programs through its accreditation processes. These processes strive to ensure that the HIT workforce meets the challenges of our information-intensive environment and its impact on global health. The baccalaureate degree Health Information Management Program is in Candidacy Status, pending accreditation review by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM).
Branda said there are several domains within the health information field that offer opportunities for recent graduates as well as those ready to advance in their careers. This job market is driven by new technologies, the growth of the healthcare industry itself and by stringent patient care regulations and requirements. Here's Branda's overview of some of the most common jobs that workers in health information technology and management may pursue:
By combining their knowledge of healthcare and patient needs with background and training in information management, graduates with degrees in health information management have a broad scope of career opportunities available now and well into the future. Whether you're already working in the field of HIM -or want to advance your existing skills to a higher level, pursuing a degree in health information technology can help you advance on your career path.
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