What is a Registered Health Information Administrator?

Registered health information administrator is a professional credential awarded by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). This designation is earned after meeting specific qualifications and passing the registered health information administrator examination. Professionals pursue a registered health information administrator credential voluntarily to prove their expertise in health information management. Here’s what an RHIA does on a day to day basis.

What does a registered health information administrator do?

A registered health information administrator uses multidisciplinary expertise in health information to connect patients, providers, insurers and other payers.

A registered health information administrator typically has managerial responsibilities that can include supervisory or consulting roles within an organization. A registered health information administrator can:

  • Collect and manage patient data and health-related records
  • Analyze patient data and prepare reports on findings
  • Consult on medical, administrative, legal and ethical use of health information
  • Develop and administer computerized health information systems
  • Manage employees and departments related to health information
  • Collaborate across all departments, including medical, administrative, financial and information systems, that utilize patient data

How does a registered health information administrator differ from a registered health technician?

While both credentials are awarded by AHIMA, they represent two different types of professionals. A registered health information administrator uses health information technology to connect patients, healthcare providers and insurers, while a registered health information technician works to create and insure the accuracy and accessibility of that health information.

Though an associate’s degree meets the requirements for the registered health information technician examination, candidates for the registered health information administrator examination must hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree. A registered health information administrator is qualified to assume more managerial positions than a registered health information technician.

What are the requirements to become a registered health information administrator?

To achieve the registered health information administrator credential, a candidate must fulfill all the conditions set by AHIMA. Candidates must meet one of the following requirements:

  • Successful completion of the academic requirements of a healthcare information management (HIM) program at a baccalaureate level, which is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM); or
  • Successful completion of the academic requirements of a CAHIIM-accredited HIM program at the master’s level and specific criteria for the Master’s Program Exam; or
  • Successful completion of an HIM program with approval from a foreign organization that has a reciprocity agreement with AHIMA

Applicants for the registered health information administrator examination also must meet these requirements:

  • Provide an official school transcript if they are first-time applicants
  • Obtain AHIMA approval of academic qualifications
  • Pass a test of 180 multiple-choice questions in a period of 4 hours, demonstrating mastery of five domains:
    • Data Content, Structure and Standards (Information Governance)
    • Information Protection: Access, Disclosure, Archival, Privacy and Security
    • Informatics, Analytics & Data Use
    • Revenue Management
    • Leadership

Students enrolled in registered health information administrator degree programs accredited by CAHIIM are eligible for early exam testing if they are:

  • Current students enrolled in their final term of study
  • Current students who have fulfilled their academic requirements but have not graduated
  • Graduates waiting for their official transcripts

The registered health information administrator credential must be renewed every two years by completing 30 continuing education units (CEUs) and paying related recertification fees.

What is the employment outlook for RHIAs?

A career as a registered health information administrator can offer many rewarding opportunities, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Projected Job Growth

20 percent

Jobs in this segment are expected to grow by 20 percent through 2026. That rate is more than twice the 7 percent increase predicted for all occupations during that time. Opportunities are likely to expand as the use of electronic health records becomes more widespread and the aging population increases in numbers.

Median Annual Salary

$96,540
Health Services Managers

In 2016, the median annual wage for medical and health services managers, including health information administrators, was $96,540, according to the BLS. Since a registered health information administrator indicates a level of expertise, professionals with this credential may earn higher salaries. The BLS predicts that candidates with a master’s degree and knowledge of healthcare IT systems are likely to have better job prospects.

A registered health information administrator can find positions in both clinical and nonclinical settings. Typical places of employment include the following:

  • Hospitals
  • Physicians’ Practices
  • Rehabilitation Centers
  • Consulting Agencies
  • Government Agencies
  • Pharmaceutical Companies
  • Insurance Companies
  • Software Vendors

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