There are several roles you can consider if you want a career in Information Technology and one of those is to become a Health Information Technology Specialist. This article is to offer information to those who want to know what this job entails, the skills and education you might need, what it pays and what your future career might look like.
What You Need to Know About Getting a Job as a Health Information Technology Specialist
A person in this position takes care of IT systems with a healthcare facility – be it hospice, hospital, doctor’s offices, clinics, research, health care insurance companies, nursing homes, private practices, health agencies, mental health facilities and so on. They would maintain and repair servers, networks, computers and be responsible for medical records also. You would be responsible for installing and maintaining both computer systems and software. If you have experience or training in specific types of healthcare networking systems you might be called in for your specialized knowledge. Other duties may include;
- Improving data organization methods
- Supervising other IT specialists
- Developing technical standards
- Use medical coding software to create patient files for a database
- Maintain those patient files and make sure they comply to regulations and are secure
- Help your employer transition fully to electronic handling of information
- Help with offering medical and admin staff support in using new hardware and software
- Be prepared to have a demanding work schedule
- Optimize the new systems so that staff can work efficiently
Requirements and Skills
If this career sounds like something that interests you there are some requirements prospective employers will look for, though this role is not as hard to get into as some other positions in IT. At least an associate two year degree in information technology and or computer sciences is expected. But it would look better to have a bachelor’s or even master’s-level degree in these areas, and if you wish there are schools that specialize in health informatics. Such programs are accredited by the CAHIIM (The Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education).
Should you be going to a school that does not specialize then look to get within your studies some math, biology and computer science. Make sure you can display excellent understanding and knowledge of data base creation and management. Specialized knowledge in bioinformatics (the large quantities of genetic data researchers are generating) may also give you an advantage. On top of your degrees other credentials that can help get employment are in information systems and medical coding. Try to choose a degree that prepares you in the direction you want to go.
Health IT Specialist Salary and Outlook
In terms of looking at salary across the spectrum of Information Technology what you earn as a Health Information Technology Specialist is definitely on the low end. Who you work for, where in the country, and how senior you start out will of course impact those earnings too. On average when starting out you can look to about $44,000 a year with that figure rising to an average of $69,000 a year. But some jobs actually start as low as $22,000 a year if not in a larger city area and if you have only the minimum qualifications. Therefore since even in the higher range the wage is a low example of an IT paid job, it does make sense to get all the education, training, experience and qualifications you can to get a better starting salary. The top specialists can expect to receive a yearly salary of around $110,000 and if you accept an administrative position this can pay a bit more when it comes with additional responsibilities.
If you are looking to advance in this field of IT you should get work in a large facility like a hospital or other large institution. They have more of a chance of advancement with their various hierarchies of support staff and medical staff. Try to get some work experience as not only can this give you some specialized knowledge that may help your career and advancement, it can also help you salary both with current employer and future ones.
At the moment an estimated 450,000 people are employed in Health Information Technology and over the next five to ten years that will continue to grow. It has a higher than average job growth rate because with the new technology advances brings a need for specialists who can help implement and maintain them.