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Health Information Management

The world of healthcare is full of opportunity. It’s one of the fastest growing industries in the United States and offers a wide range of career paths that go beyond direct patient care. Health Information Management (HIM) is one such career that allows you to work with patient databases and other aspects of a provider’s information technology. While you might never see a patient, you will have a profound impact on their health and well-being.

What is Health Information Management?

Health Information Management encompasses the methods and systems used to store, sort and protect patient records. Without proper recordkeeping, caregivers would be at a loss trying to administer the best possible care for their patients. In fact, HIM can be vital in protecting lives.

For instance, HIM can help doctors see what medications a patients is currently taking. That information can help them decide which drugs to prescribe or administer in a crisis situation.

The professionals in the field are instrumental in creating databases and even writing policy. HIM executives might even design and administer trainings for doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers so that they are sure to properly enter patient information into a system.

In fact, HIM is integral to the entire workings of any healthcare organization. Their systems help ensure that insurance companies are billed properly, that patient beds are accounted for and that there are proper safeguards in place. HIM professionals also help track the clinical care any one patient has received so that doctors, nurses and specialized care providers can avoid repeating unnecessary procedures.

HIM Degrees

To enter this varied and expanding field, you will first need to complete an academic course. While some may be able to cross over from a traditional information technology background, you will have greater success when you start off with a focused, specialized degree in Healthcare Information Management. Those with an IT background in another industry will likely need further study to thrive in HIM.

You will quickly find that you are not only learning about how to manage a database of patient information, but that you are learning more about the broader picture of healthcare. Since you are entering the healthcare field, it will be vital to learn about human anatomy, epidemiology, human diseases as well as administrative concerns like medical coding and management styles in a hospital.

HIM Certificate

A certificate program is a great place to start, and can be beneficial for those with a background in information technology who need to learn or brush up on specific HIM technology and practices. For instance, most will need to study medical coding and learn more about human diseases. This sort of information can prove invaluable when it comes to sorting databases. The certificate route can also be beneficial for administrators who wish to increase their knowledge in the field or for IT professionals who are considering a master’s degree in HIM, yet who need to satisfy certain course requirements. Certificate programs are typically shorter than a degree program, and you can likely finish one within a year’s time.

Associate’s Degree

An associate’s degree takes approximately two years to complete. During this time, you’ll take both HIM courses as well as liberal arts classes. Plus, you may have access to more resources such as career guidance and internship possibilities. Make sure that program is accredited by a regional agency or the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). An associate’s degree can be a great starting point if you need help deciding if a career in HIM is right for you.

Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree is usually the minimum education requirement for HIM careers. As with any degree program, make sure that you are entering an accredited program. Here’s a look at some of the courses you may encounter in your degree program:

  • Medical Coding
  • Human Diseases
  • Pharmacology
  • Healthcare Administration
  • Epidemiology
  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Law

If you wish, you can pursue a master’s degree in Health Information Management. With an advanced degree, you can move into upper management and possibly find yourself in the executive suite, making decisions that impact large healthcare systems, such as a series of hospitals or clinics. A few of the courses you might take for your master’s degree include, but are not limited to:

  • Statistics in Healthcare
  • Ethics in Healthcare Information
  • Finance in Healthcare
  • Healthcare Leadership
  • Medical Terminology

What Do HIM Professionals Do?

With such a broad-based educational background in HIM, you will be equipped to wear a lot of different hats. HIM professionals are found in a wide range of environments, such as hospitals, doctor’s offices, insurance companies and facilities for specialized care such as mental health and rehabilitation.

In a hospital, an HIM professional might be in charge of managing how information is recorded, sorted, and distributed to the various parts of the facility. If that person is you, you might work on ensuring consistency across the system. That is, part of your duties might be to train providers on the best ways to enter information, and to listen to their feedback on how they use the system. Not every system is perfect, but with input from your end users, you can help to fine tune how your hospital handles its information.

The hospital setting might also allow you opportunities higher up in the administrative chain of command. For instance, you could one day oversee a team of HIM professionals or you might work with the accountants to ensure that all procedures are properly recorded and billed to insurers. You could even oversee a series of hospitals and their associated clinics, ensuring that they are sharing information properly.

Another possible work environment is a doctor’s office. You might find a practice comprised of multiple doctors who need your assistance with information management on a full-time basis, or you might work as a consultant for multiple smaller practices who may need periodic check-ups their systems. This sort of career is also possible in specialized facilities such as those for mental health, long-term care and rehabilitation.

How to Become a Health Information Manager


Earn Your Degree

First, you will want to start with academic experience. If you already have a degree in a related field, such as information technology or even health sciences, you might consider a certificate program. However, your career will always benefit from a specialized degree.


Gain Experience

During your academic years, try to amass as much practical experience as possible. You might discuss this with your advisors to see what is possible. You might, for instance, take a semester off to work part-time or as an intern for a hospital. If you are attending an online university, you may have enough time to work full-time in a hospital. Look for positions in administration that will put you in close proximity with the information professionals.



Once you have a degree and are working in the field, consider sitting for professional certification examinations. Professional certification demonstrates your skills and knowledge of the HIM field.


Stay Connected

Join a professional organization to attend conferences and get access to educational resources.

HIM Salary and Job Growth



Medical and Health Service Managers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for medical and health services managers in 2018 was $99,730 a year and the typical educational level for these experts was a bachelor’s degree.

Job Growth


8Further, the BLS projects 18% growth in this sector through 2028. This growth is largely attributed to the aging population.

If you are looking for a career in healthcare, but don’t want to be a clinician, look no farther than HIM.


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