What is the Coursework for the RHIA Program?

To become a registered health information administrator (RHIA) you’ll need to earn at least a bachelor’s degree. According to the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)—the organization that grants the RHIA credential—holding a bachelor’s degree is one of the main requirements to earning the credential. The credential allows you to use the title “Registered,” so completing your degree is critical to your career as a heath information administrator.

Bachelor’s and RHIA Degree

With a bachelor’s degree, a RHIA can choose from a wide variety of careers and work in a number of setting within the healthcare industry. Here are some examples of healthcare facilities that hire those who hold a RHIA degree:

  • Physician practices
  • Hospitals
  • Nursing homes
  • Assisted living facilities
  • Mental health clinics
  • Insurance companies
  • Government agencies
  • Managed care companies
  • Software vendors
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Educational organizations

In a bachelor’s RHIA degree program you’ll take a wide variety of courses in order to become proficient in overseeing the healthcare system of your future organization. Here are some of the many topics that will be covered during your education:

  • Healthcare information systems
  • Patient record management
  • Patient health information management
  • Administering computer information systems
  • Informatics
  • Patient data analytics
  • Medical terminology
  • Classification systems
  • Ethical and legal requirements of RHIA
  • Medical healthcare delivery standards
  • Protecting patient privacy
  • Accounting
  • Management

Upon graduation you’ll be an expert in administering information systems, managing patient records, collecting and analyzing data in regards to patient care, and managing patient health care. Since you’ll work as a critical link between patients, providers and payers, you’ll be prepared to manage operational facilities and people, hold administrative meetings and committees, interact with all of the levels of an organization, prepare a budget, and make day-to-day decisions regarding the operations of the organization.

Master’s RHIA Degree

If you’d like more career flexibility and pay, you should consider continuing your education to earn your master’s degree. With a master’s degree, you’ll be qualified for more critical positions, which usually equates to higher salaries. Usually those who hold a Master’s RHIA degree are employed as executives, in upper management and in research and academia. These positions are associated with analysis, problem solving and management roles within the higher tiers of a healthcare organization.

During the two years it will take to earn your master’s degree, you’ll take extensive coursework in subjects such as these:

  • Construction of databases
  • Information organization
  • Strategies of management
  • Statistics
  • Health record systems

You’ll also learn the latest software being introduced into the healthcare industry and future trends and projections. Typically master’s degree programs also entail a research project, internship or thesis.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for registered health information administrators is robust; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 20 percent growth through at least the next decade. This is partly due to the rapid expansion of technology usage within the healthcare industry.

Projected Job Growth

20 percent

Professional Organizations

There are many professional organizations you can join as a registered health information administrator, and the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), which oversees the registration process, is the main agency. Here are a few more groups for those who hold a RHIA degree; note that some have membership levels that will allow you to join their organization while you’re earning your degree.

Since many of these organizations hold regular meetings and conventions, they can be a vital part of your networking strategy. You can also turn to them for information on continuing education, mentoring, job boards, and the latest news within the industry.

  • Academy of Health Information Professionals (AHIP)
  • American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA)
  • American Public Health Association
  • Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA)
  • National Association of Health Service Executives (NAHSE)

Because the healthcare industry technology is changing and evolving at a rapid pace, once you earn your RHIA degree you may require ongoing continuing education in order to stay on top of the latest trends in information systems.


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