Health information management (HIM) careers are growing exponentially. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects jobs in the field to increase 15 percent through 2024 — that's more than twice the nation's average for all occupations!
This growth is largely due to the major increase in electronic data capture and use. Combine that with the increasing healthcare needs of the aging U.S. population in tandem with the rapid increase of insured Americans in recent years, and it's no wonder this field is booming.
These changes mean health information professionals will be front and center in helping to manage and organize the older generation's health information data. They will also be handling more claims for reimbursement from insurance companies which, in turn, creates more need for health information positions.
That's why these healthcare professionals are in high demand, but what will your options be once you enter the field?
The alphabet soup of acronyms you'll encounter may initially make the process more confusing than you might expect. That's why we outlined 10 common health informatics and information management (HIIM) abbreviations — from roles and credentials to prominent organizations you'll undoubtedly cross paths with — to make sure you understand the best academic track to help you land the career you're after.
10 commonly used HIIM acronyms
AHIMA is the primary association for HIM professionals worldwide. The association serves 52 affiliated state associations and more than 103,000 health information professionals. One of the main goals of AHIMA is to advance the use of electronic health records by being a key leader in industry initiatives, as well as advocating high and consistent standards.
AMIA connects professionals and students interested in informatics, providing ample networking opportunities for those involved. It operates upon the mission to advance the science of information, promote the education of informatics and work to ensure that health information technology is being used effectively.
CAHIIM is an independent accrediting organization that serves students, academic institutions and the public by creating and enforcing quality accreditation standards for health informatics and HIM educational programs. This globally recognized and trusted organization is committed to ensuring the development of an HIIM workforce that can rise to the challenge of an information-intensive global environment.
This AHIMA commission is dedicated to ensuring the competency of professionals working within the HIIM fields. CCHIIM has continually established, implemented and enforced standards and procedures for certification and recertification of HIIM professionals, providing strategic oversight of all AHIMA certification programs. In fact, CCHIIM has been bestowed with the sole and independent authority in all matters relating to both the initial certification and ongoing recertification of HIIM professionals at large.
While EHR may be the acronym you'll most commonly encounter of these, they both mean virtually the same thing — they are electronic versions of a person's medical history. A healthcare provider maintains the records over time that may include patient demographic information, progress notes, problems, medications, past medical history and immunizations, among other things.
If you've made it this far in your search, you already know what HIM stands for, but here's a bit more background on the field: Professionals in this realm of healthcare are responsible for acquiring, analyzing and protecting digital and traditional health information. These individuals are highly trained in the latest and greatest information technology management applications, and they are vital to the daily operations of managing patient records, ensuring that important health information remains complete, accurate and protected.
This nonprofit paves the way for health information professionals by connecting them with experts, offering opportunities for community building and professional development, as well as completing important work related to public policy. The organization's thousands of volunteers work together toward a common goal — to improve the quality, accessibility and cost-effectiveness of healthcare through information technology.
Health information technology (HIT) is a broad concept that encompasses the technologies used to store, share and analyze health information. HIT usage has become increasingly common among healthcare providers in recent years not only because of its streamlined capabilities in utilizing patient data, but also in the increased access it provides to the patients themselves. HIT provides increased ways for patients to communicate with their doctors, to receive test results faster, to learn and share information about their health and to take actions that will improve their quality of life.
RHIA is a credential offered by AHIMA. To achieve this credential, professionals must pass the respective examination after completing the bachelor's or master's level requirements of a CAHIIM accredited HIM program. RHIAs act as a link between care providers, insurance companies and patients. In addition to managing patient medical records, RHIAs also manage people and operational units, participate in administrative committees and prepare budgets. The position requires in-depth knowledge on medical, administrative, ethical and legal requirements in relation to protecting patient information.
Also accredited by AHIMA, HIT professionals that hold a RHIT credential use computer applications to assemble and analyze patient information with the goal of controlling costs and improving patient care. RHITs often specialize in coding diagnoses and procedures in patient records for reimbursement and research purposes. Applicants for this credential must first complete an associate degree at a CAHIIM accredited HIT program before sitting for the RHIT examination.
Now that we've decoded the most common healthcare acronyms within HIIM, you may feel better equipped to choose the health information career that is right for you.
You can take the next step by learning more about the distinct differences between an RHIT and an RHIA, or simply head over to The College of St. Scholastica's HIM department page to learn about the highly respected programs.