Health Information Management Degree Online

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WHAT IS A HEALTH INFORMATION MANAGEMENT DEGREE?

Health information management (HIM) degree studies digital patient data. It looks at the tools and methods used to manage regulatory, privacy, and tech issues.

Some courses look at the practices used to gain medical info. Others touch on the ways we analyze, store, and protect it. Along the way, you may build critical thinking skills and an ability to handle projects.

If the balance of business, health care and hi tech appeals to you, an HIM degree may ready you to launch a career. In many roles, one needs a bachelor’s degree to get started. Stats show a strong rate of employment growth in the industry so perhaps you’ll want to prepare.

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TYPES OF ONLINE HEALTH INFORMATION MANAGEMENT DEGREE PROGRAMS

Associate in Health Sciences/Healthcare Technology & Systems

Bachelor’s of Science in Health Information Management

BA in Health and Human Services – Health Care Informatics Systems Specializations

May ready you with technical skills and know how. Usually, a study plan features computer classes. For instance, you may learn to set up and trouble shoot health care software. Other topics may help you learn how to keep health records secure, operate a help desk and more.For students who want to pursue a leadership role in health care and medical facilities. The study plan is business focused. You can enroll in the MHA program at the same time.For students who want to pursue careers in health and human services. The study plan draws from many topics and may help you learn to use data to improve the quality of health care.
Course Examples:

  • Medical Terminology
  • Introduction to Health Information Technology (HIT)
  • ICD Coding and Application
Course Examples:

  • Advanced Quality Management in Healthcare
  • Healthcare Stats and Reporting
  • Applied Research in HIM
Course Examples:

  • Healthcare Administration
  • Intro to Health Informatics
  • Health and Human Services

HEALTH INFORMATION MANAGEMENT DEGREE ONLINE PROGRAMS

HIM degree programs feature classes to help you learn to use data to improve the quality of health care. Health information is the data related to a person’s medical history. This includes symptoms, diagnoses, procedures, and outcomes. To manage this data, you will need to ensure it is complete, accurate and secure.

Some HIM programs meld topics in business with science and information technology. Others may have a narrower focus such as management in health care. As such, you may gain a deeper knowledge of the work flow of health care providers.

You’ll also find programs that serve as study guides. These may get you ready to take an industry exam once you graduate. The Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) exam is an example. If this is your goal, you may need to complete some on site work. These provide hands on practice using electronic health records (EHRs).

Because there are a range of programs, we’ll outline a few common ones. This may help you get a feel for where your interests lie.

HEALTH INFORMATION MANAGEMENT (HIM)

BS in Health Information Management – May ready you to plan, direct, and coordinate medical and health services. You’ll often study current health care laws, regulations, and technology. Some classes also include studies of human anatomy and health policy. Others explore coding, EHRs, and statistics. As such, they may help you make informed decisions about quality and health systems.

If you want to pursue a data driven degree grad degree, there are many options, even career specific. Many schools offer online Master of HIM programs as well. These often focus on strategic and operational topics.

HEALTH INFORMATICS

BS in Health and Human Services – May focus on the helping side of health care. With an informatics focus, you might come to know how technology plays a key role in serving the public. Some of these courses might touch on health care reimbursement methods. Others may look at statistics, reporting and data mining.

HEALTH CARE ADMINISTRATION

BS in Healthcare Administration and Management – May focus more on the managerial side of health care. You’ll often study to pick up operational skills. These may help you to understand the workflow in hospitals and medical centers. As such, you may find courses that ready you to deal with staff, projects, and insurance companies.

Taking this degree further you may study to earn a Master’s in Healthcare Administration, MBA or even Ph.D. At this level, the courses often revolve around research and strategy. This may help fine tune a business mindset. Other courses at this stage may also delve into human resource skills and money matters.

WHAT DO HEALTH INFORMATION MANAGEMENT DEGREE COURSES LOOK LIKE?

HIM studies big data and how to harness it. Some classes are technical and touch on programming and analytics. While others focus on the clinical, financial, and legal uses of patient data in health care.

You may also take a series of business classes. These tend to cover administrative issues, concepts and practices. And, may help you understand how to budget, direct staff and set policy.

Many accredited HIM degree programs follow a set of standards set by AHIMA. Or, the American Health Information Management Association. These programs cover the skills and concepts that health IT managers need to thrive in the work force.

Some common courses include:

Big Data: This type of class studies big data and its many uses. You tend to learn about EHRs. Plus the codes and systems to classify that are used to sort info into a data base. Side topics might also cover the medical areas that use digital info. From patient history and lab tests to billing procedures.

Info Protection: Keeping digital data safe and private is a key task of health IT managers. As such, you are likely to study ethics and laws about disclosure. Side topics might cover actual methods and ways to assess risks.

Analytics and Informatics: A class about analytics tends to hone your ability to use software tools and statistics. You may also learn how to collect, manage, and interpret big data. Then format it into accurate, compliant and organized systems. Side topics often discuss the ways to assess info systems to ensure they are effective.

Health Law and Compliance: In this type of class you study US health care law and ethics. So, things like liability and patient consent. It may also cover corporate compliance and rules that apply to data privacy. Side topics are likely to discuss HIPAA, reporting, and disclosure laws.

Management: This type of class focuses on ways to lead and manage within many settings. So some topics may cover managerial theory and how to apply it. Things like how to direct staff, form policies and make decisions. Side topics tend to also discuss ways to improve quality of care and reduce costs.

Health Care Finance: HIM managers make budget decisions using a performance improvement model. So this class may set you up with the tools to plan, direct and control resources. Side topics may also cover billing and payments, and cost / benefits analysis.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO COMPLETE A HEALTH INFORMATION MANAGEMENT DEGREE PROGRAM?

As a full time student, it may take four years to earn an HIM degree online. If you enroll part time or take any time off from school this can be stretched out. It’s another story if you need to complete fewer credits.

The usual is 120 credits for a bachelor’s in Health Information Management. But many online colleges offer transfer policies for past credits. Fewer credits shortens the time to completion. Keep in mind, you’ll have to check school policy.

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HEALTH INFORMATION MANAGEMENT DEGREE PROGRAM EXAMPLES

School# of Credits RequiredStart DatesMinimum Months to Complete
Rasmussen College90Multiple18 months (completion for those with an Associate’s degree)
Ashford University90MonthlyCourses are 8 weeks each and self paced, with transfer credits one might complete in less than 4 years
Regent University120WeeklyCourses are 5 weeks each, with transfer credits one might complete in less than 4 years

THE AVERAGE COST OF AN ONLINE HEALTH INFORMATION MANAGEMENT DEGREE PROGRAM

Per recent data, in state cost of an online HIM degree program averages at $6,999. This is growing by 3.03%. Out of state tuition is higher. On average that cost is $24,664 and rising by 3.96%. Since these are averages, you’ll find programs that are easier or harder on the wallet.

You also need to factor in other costs. One of these is books and supplies. The chart below shows the tuition at several schools where you might pursue a bachelor’s level HIM degree online.

School# of Credits RequiredCost Per CreditTotal Tuition Cost
Colorado State University Global Campus (CSU)120$350$42,000
Ashford University120$350$42,000
Colorado Technical University (CTU)180$325$58,500

TOP SCHOOLS FOR ONLINE HEALTH INFORMATION MANAGEMENT DEGREE PROGRAMS

Last check, there were 225 schools that offer HIM degrees or programs. From those schools there were 2,889 health info and medical records admin degrees awarded to students. The majority of these programs were bachelor’s degrees.

The table below shows the tuition costs for some of these schools.

School2017 Degrees awarded2019/20 Tuition (out of state unless *)
Ivy Tech Community College237$8,661
University of Phoenix Arizona211$9,552*
The College of Saint Scholastica158$38,282*
University of Illinois at Chicago155$27,566
Western Governors University128$6,670*
Institute of Technology74$11,850*
University of Cincinnati Main Campus71$26,994
Texas State University62$22,397
University of Central Florida61$22,467
University of Washington Seattle Campus51$38,166

Estimated for full time, beginning undergrad students

BECOMING A REGISTERED HEALTH INFORMATION ADMINISTRATOR (RHIA)

RHIAs work as links between care providers and patients. In fact, it’s key that HIM pros tell a full story with their data. They need to manage, sort, secure, share and store health info so that they get as many codes on a claim as possible.

Done well, both public health pros and others are then able to use that data. They might do so to predict something about a disease. Or, develop a way to help prevent a health crisis. For patients, the right code can mean getting money back from an insurance company.

What is RHIA Certification? AHIMA awards the RHIA credential.

While it is not required, some HIM managers choose to become certified. It is one way to show potential employers you have both skills and know how. And that you understand and follow standards and ethics.

To certify as an RHIA you’ll need to first show you are eligible. One way to do this is to earn a bachelor’s degree in HIM from an accredited program. The agency that approves HIM and HIT programs is the commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management (CAHIM).

Once you are eligible, you’ll need to pass the RHIA exam. In it, you’ll answer 180 questions.

These cover things like:
  • Health Data Management
  • IT Systems
  • Database Design
  • Human Resource Management
  • Privacy and InfoSec

From there, every two years you’ll need to renew your RHIA status. This means earning 30 continuing education credits. One way to do this is to earn your master’s degree. Experts say this may help you advance to higher levels of management.

What if you choose another program like health administration? You may want to look into any requirements that each state has in order for you to get your license. For example, all states require that you have your license if you’re looking to be a nursing home admin. Or you might check other types of credentials that may be useful for specific positions.

  • The Professional Association of Health Care Office Management (PAHCOM) offers certification as a medical manager
  • The American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA) offers the Certified Nursing Home Administrator and Certified Assisted Living Administrator credentials

WHAT JOBS CAN YOU GET WITH A HEALTH INFORMATION MANAGEMENT DEGREE?

There are 4.28 million people working in HIM. While the average age is going down from 42.8 years, the work force is growing by 4.06%. Most (82.3%) of these workers are women and have a bachelor’s degree. Another common degree type is a Masters degree.

TOP SALARIES BY STATE FOR HEALTH INFORMATION MANAGEMENT DEGREE HOLDERS

The following information is for Medical and Health Service Managers. Salary and employment numbers will differ for other criminal justice career paths.

StateEmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
District of Columbia1,580$145,760
New York25,830$143,030
Massachusetts15,380$133,900
Delaware1,040$131,260
California5,510$129,480

HEALTH INFORMATION MANAGEMENT CAREER PATHS AND POTENTIAL SALARIES

Job prospects for HIM positions vary depending on the role but they range from growing as fast as any other occupation to growing faster than average according to BLS. Below you’ll find a guide to some of the more popular career paths that many grads pursue. We’ve also listed the education that is needed to enter the field along with salary (2018) and job outlook through 2028.

HEALTH INFORMATION MANAGERS

Health information managers maintain and secure all patient records and data. To do this, they stay up to date with the latest IT. It is also their role to make sure databases are complete and accurate. They’ll also keep private info accessible only to authorized personnel. Some may supervise the work of medical records and health information techs.

Median Salary: $40,350 per year

Job Growth Through 2028: 11% (Much faster than average)

Typical Entry level Education: Post secondary non degree award

MEDICAL AND HEALTH SERVICES MANAGERS

Medical and Health Services Managers have job titles that depend on where they work and what they do. Some work as nursing home admins. They manage the staff, admissions, finances, day to day tasks and residents. Others work as clinical managers and oversee a specific department. They often set policies, goals and procedures and may also assess staff.

Median Salary: $99,730 per year

Job Growth Through 2028: 18% (Much faster than average)

Typical Entry level Education: Bachelor’s Degree

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Sources for school statistics is the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

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This is an offer for educational opportunities that may lead to employment and not an offer for nor a guarantee of employment. Students should consult with a representative from the school they select to learn more about career opportunities in that field. Program outcomes vary according to each institution’s specific program curriculum. Financial aid may be available to those who qualify. The financial aid information on this site is for informational and research purposes only and is not an assurance of financial aid.