Healthcare facilities rely on the maintenance of medical records from medical record technicians who are called health information technicians, medical office technicians or medical billers and coders. Medical records technicians are expected by many employers to hold an associate degree; however, some employers accept candidates who hold medical records technician certificates in entry-level positions.
Medical Records Technician Certification
Vocational schools, universities and community colleges offer certification programs that medical records technicians can take. Such programs usually last for one to two semesters and are devised to prepare students with an in-depth grasp of the modes of information and record management in a healthcare organization. Apart from administration, keyboarding and computer skills, prospective candidates are taught health center organization, medical terminology and medical coding and billing techniques. Aspiring medical records technicians taking a certification course are taught how to operate and manage the latest electronic records systems employed at healthcare organizations. They learn record retrieval, filing, and transcribing methods.
Aspiring candidates seeking enrollment into a medical records technicians program are required to maintain the minimum qualification of a GED or high school diploma. In some institutions candidates are required to take the ACT or SAT exams and the scores are considered part of the qualifying standards for enrollment. There are many other schools that insist on SAT or ACT scores from incoming students.
Coursework in medical records technology certification programs are delivered through classroom lectures and cover topics such as medical concepts and healthcare administration. Students are imparted practical training on how to keep records. Some of the topics covered in the classroom include billing and coding, health information records systems, basic computer knowledge, the legal requirements relating to healthcare, medical office administration, medical terminology and foundation of health records.
Wage and Job Potential
In 2009, approximately 170,580 medical records technicians were employed by healthcare organizations including nursing care facilities, physicians’ offices and hospitals (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported (www.bls.gov)). In the same year, medical records technicians earned a median annual salary in excess of $31,000. However, the average annual wage was as high as $61,210 for medical records technicians employed by pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing firms.
Information on Certification and Continuing Education
Medical records technicians trained in coding and billing procedures can choose to take courses for the American Academy of Professional Coders’ coding certification. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers certification; the AHIMA has a designation of Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) that medical records clerks can pursue by having the minimum qualification of an associate degree in the field. Those who have completed a certificate program and are seeking a degree beyond an associate degree can choose to pursue a bachelor or master degree in health care administration and health information management.