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How to Become a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT)

Health information technology enables you to efficiently collect and manage the huge volume of data in a healthcare setting. While describing the duties of a Registered Health Information Technician and the educational qualification required for the job, this Buzzle article also explains the pros and cons of a RHIT career.
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Tip to become a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT)
Job Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has stated that RHIT labor force will increase by 20% between 2008 to 2018. This is significantly faster than the average for all other occupations in the medical field. Statistics indicate that the healthcare industry will add more jobs than any other sector.
With computers and sophisticated information technology, it is quite easier to organize, maintain, send, and refer to complex health information collected from millions of patients. As 'time' and 'convenience' are crucial in the health sector, health information technicians would always be in demand. They are required in hospitals, nursing and residential care facilities, offices of physicians, and government departments.

What is RHIT

A Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) is responsible for patient registration and maintenance of health information of patients which includes medical history, symptoms, examination procedures, remarks, tests recommended, test results, treatments, response to the treatment, etc.

Educational Qualification

The requirement may vary according to the size of the organization and type of work expected.

The candidate should have an Associate's Degree (2 years) in Health Information Technology or a similar degree program, approved by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM).

The candidate is expected to have a thorough knowledge of ICD-9 and ICD-10 coding (International Statistical Classifications of Diseases), reimbursement systems, legal issues, medical terminology, healthcare ethics, and data analysis etc. He/she should be conversant in human anatomy and physiology too. Health information technology programs vary from school to school, but most programs cover the topics mentioned above.

How to Obtain a RHIT Certification

After acquiring the necessary and related degree, anyone who wants to become a Registered Health Information Technician has to obtain a RHIT certification by clearing the exam conducted by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). The exam covers the following topics: Health informatics, health statistics, and health data management.

RHIA Certification

A CAHIIM-accredited Baccalaureate Degree (4 years) in Health Information Technology (HIT), or Health Information Management, or Computer Science can help you get a very good job in a relatively larger organization. You may take a national credential exam in health information administration to become a certified Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA). You may even opt for an online degree program.

Job Duties

The duties may vary with the size of the facility in which you work.

Verify, compile, process, and store medical records.

Use the classification systems to assign codes and categorize the information in such a way that it can be used for various purposes like registration, clinical research, insurance reimbursement, data management, diagnosis, and treatment designing, etc.

Ensure the quality, accuracy, accessibility, privacy, and security of the data.

Review patients' records as and when required. Track the outcomes for quality assessment.

Not only storage but analysis, retrieval, and reporting are some of the major aspects of data collection. A physician relies on a RHIT for these.

Regularly communicate with physicians to understand diagnoses and acquire the information needed to update a patient's file.

Store the data in accordance with applicable Federal, State, and employer's requirements.

With 2-4 years of job experience, an aspiring RHIT can enjoy a senior position in the medical records department in a larger organization. Moreover, he/she can specialize in a chosen medical field, such as gynecology, cancer, or pediatric care.

Other Skills Required

Apart from technical skills, a RHIT should have good analytical skills. Only then will he be able to follow the sorting and coding procedures.

He should have great communication skills as he is required to discuss the requisites, actual information, and discrepancies with doctors as well as finance personnel involved.

Since 100% accuracy is expected while recording and coding patient information, he should have an eye for details.

He is expected to maintain the confidentiality of the data and is supposed to work with integrity.

Advantages of Being a RHIT

It is estimated to be a high-growth field with about 21% rise in employment by 2020.

Technology has improved the quality of work that involves data analysis, management, and retrieval.

Those who do not have an advanced degree can also work in this field.

Job opportunities are unlimited as you can work in various types of organizations, as described above.

Downside

Although the job description involves the use of computers and latest information technology, a RHIT earns a relatively low salary.

He has to spend long hours in front of a computer which can affect his own health.

Passing the exam conducted by the AHIMA is mandatory for registration. A RHIT has to participate in accepted and qualified CEU activities and earn certain number of CEUs during the re-certification cycle.

He has to work in shifts, at night, or even on weekends.

Salary

As published in the Occupational Outlook Handbook by the United States Department of Labor, the median annual salary for a RHIT was $34,750 (16.42 USD per hour), in May 2012.

The demand for all health care professionals is increasing at an amazing rate, and these professionals are going to need help from health information technicians. Those who are in high schools and want to become RHIT may prepare by taking courses in health, math, and computer science.
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Published: August 16, 2014
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