What is a Health Information Technician
Professionals who manage patients’ records and other data in a medical facility are called registered health information technicians (also known as Health Information Coder, Health Information Specialist, Medical Records Technician, Medical Coders, Medical Records Specialist, Medical Billing and Coding Specialists, or simply RHITs). They ensure that paper and computer records are accurate and well organized.
Patients’ financial and medical information must be kept up-to-date. This data includes treatments, diagnoses, medications, and exam results. RHITs provide the records to insurance companies and other third-party payers, and code medical information for security and billing purposes. For more information on job duties, please visit our medical billing and coding specialist job description page.
Nearly all RHITs work in clean, safe, well-lighted offices. They spend much of their time working on computers, so eye strain or muscle aches may develop. Anyone employed in a medical facility runs a risk of coming into contact with patients’ infectious diseases, though RHITs have little direct contact with the public.
Some health information technicians are employed by home health-care service companies and agencies. They must travel to patients’ residences, where they encounter various environments.
RHITs typically work full-time, 40-hour-per-week jobs. Most have weekday shifts. Some hospitals and other large facilities that operate 24 hours a day employ RHITs in the evenings and on weekends.
Mean Annual Health Information Technician Salary
The average annual health information technician salary is $36,770. An analysis of the salary range showed that the bottom 10% of technicians made a little more than $22,250 a year, while the top 10% technicians earned more than $56,200 yearly. Location, industry, and experience are the major factors in the rate of pay.
Health Information Technician Salary: Quick Summary
|2012 Mean Salary||$36,770 per year
$17.68 per hour
|Top 10% Salary||$56,200 per year
$27.02 per hour
|Bottom 10% Salary||$22,250 per year
$10.70 per hour
|Number of Jobs, 2012||182,370|
Health Information Technician Job Outlook and Prospects
The number of positions for RHITs in the United States is expected to increase 22 percent from 2012 to 2022, a significantly higher rate than that of the average occupation. If that projection (by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) proves to be accurate, there will be 41,100 more jobs in this profession than the 186,300 reported in 2012.
The biggest factor in the job growth is the nation’s aging population. The number of people receiving medical services is likely to continue to rise annually. The increased availability of health insurance is another reason that most medical fields are expected to provide more jobs in the future.
Health Information Technician Salary: Factors of Influence
Health information technician salary is affected primarily by experience, geographic location, and education. The current mean annual wage is $36,770, and most of the medically-related industries tend to revolve around this salary. Education can bring some noteworthy salary gains, and positional improvements have some potential. Specialization is not a factor for health information technicians.
Education and Specialization
There are several alternative paths for qualifying to work as an RHIT. A certificate in medical technology may be obtained after six months of classes. Another method is to earn a two-year associate’s degree in health information management from an institution recognized by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Information Management Education. Better jobs are available for those who obtain four-year bachelor’s degrees in health information technology from accredited colleges and universities.
A prospective RHIT must pass an exam administered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). Most employers require certification. RHITs may earn certificates as cancer registrars, distributing information for public-information and research purposes; or medical coding specialists. This requires experience and entails passing an exam, but is worthwhile because specialization usually results in a higher salary. Some employers also are willing to pay a bit more for those who belong to the AHIMA.
According to government statistics reported in 2012, general medical and surgical hospitals were the largest employers of health information technicians. Those institutions provided 68,440 jobs, followed by physicians’ offices at 40,230 and nursing-care facilities at 12,980. There were 7,180 positions in outpatient-care centers and 6,240 with home health-care services.
The top-paid RHITs, with an average salary of $66,060, were employed by pharmaceutical companies. However, there were only 40 such jobs nationwide. The same number of RHITs worked for insurance companies and employee-benefits funds. They earned an average of $51,840. The 540 RHITs employed by scientific research and development firms made $48,060.
At last report, California offered the most jobs (17,650) for health information technicians. Their average pay of $42,270 ranked fourth in the nation. Texas was home to 16,830 RHITs, who earned about $36,000. In Florida, 10,480 professionals averaged $35,380; in New York, 9,200 made $40,300; and in Illinois, 7,860 RHITs earned $36,510. Metropolitan areas featuring the most positions were those surrounding Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Houston, Phoenix, and Boston.
New Jersey’s 1,870 RHITs led the country with an average income of $55,130. Next on the top-paying list were the District of Columbia, $45,500 for 640 positions; and Hawaii, $42,500 for 420 RHITs. In fifth place was Colorado, where 2,670 of these professionals made an average of $42,110. The four metro areas where RHITs earned the most money were in New Jersey. Regions surrounding Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose, Calif., reported the next-highest salaries.