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Degree Overview: Associate of Science (A.S.) Degree in Health Information Technology

Majors Overview March 2, 2014

Those interested in a career in healthcare may want to look into health information technology degree programs. Graduates of these programs are prepared for jobs in the field, such as insurance billers, health information technicians, or medical coders.

A.S. Programs in Health Information Technology

Students enrolled in these associate’s degree programs are prepared to seek entry-level careers as health information technicians while also honing skills in insurance coding and medical records filing. Knowledge of pathology, medical terminology and human anatomy are commonly gained by participants, who also develop computer programming, data storage and keyboarding skills. It usually takes about two years to complete these programs. Admission criteria typically require applicants to hold GED certificates or high school diplomas.

Coursework

General education coursework is typically completed by students, in addition to core courses in industry-oriented topic areas to obtain knowledge on health information technology apart from practical training. An internship is also included in many programs. Coursework may commonly include topic areas such as:

•Healthcare reimbursement methodologies
•International classification of diseases
•Visual basic programming
•Human diseases
•Healthcare coding systems
•ICD-9-CM-coding
•Legal aspects of healthcare
•Data analysis
•Computer applications

Career Choices

The responsibilities of professionals dealing with health information technology include organizing a diverse amount of information about patients, including medical histories, insurance carriers, and test results. They may choose from job titles such as:

•Medical coder
•Billing and reimbursement specialist
•Records technician specialist
•Health information technician
•Coding specialist

Certification and Continuing Education Choices

Certification may be obtained by graduates through passage of written exams from certifying organizations and agencies, including the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). The Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) and Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) credentials are offered by the AHIMA. Although certification is not mandatory, employers of medical record and health information technicians prefer candidates with professional certification (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

The Board of Medical Specialty Coding & Compliance (BMSC), the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), and the Professional Association of Healthcare Coding Specialists (PAHCS) are other agencies that offer certification to medical coders. Obtaining certifications or earning bachelor’s or master’s degrees in health information management will enable interested individuals to advance to health information management positions, wherein their responsibilities would include the supervision of the daily operations of a health care facility.

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