Are you detail-oriented? Like to stay organized? Would love the chance to work from home?
Yes, it sounds like an infomercial – or a job with strings attached.
But in the field of medical coding or health information technology, working from home is becoming the norm. As hospitals and doctor’s offices implement computerized records systems, many are hiring health information specialists and medical coders who work from home and are connected to the office by the Internet.
To keep up with those changes, Valencia College has changed its curriculum and is now offering an Associate in Science degree in the field of Health Information Technology (HIT). Students who graduate with a two-year HIT degree can work as health information specialists, health data analysts, release of information specialists or medical coders.
Starting salaries for health information technicians range from about $31,000 to $32,000 a year in the Orlando area.
There is no waiting list to get into Valencia’s HIT program. To be accepted, students must have completed four courses: Anatomy and Physiology 1 and 2 (BSC 2093C/BSC 2094C), Medical Terminology (HSC 1531) and either Introduction to Computers (CGS 1060C) or Computer Fundamentals and Applications (CGS 2100C).
Successful HIT students should have the ability to communicate effectively, because they will be required to communicate with patients and other employees in the healthcare system, says Kelli Lewis, who is chair of Valencia’s Health Information Technology program.
Demand for HIT employees is growing – and is expected to escalate in the next year, because the federal government has mandated that hospitals and doctors’ offices have electronic health records systems in place by 2015.
Employers are already looking for workers who are trained to use the electronic records systems.
“The biggest demand we have is for coding positions, especially with the new transition in 2015,” said Glen Hobbs, who is head of Health Information Management at the Orlando VA Medical Center. “There is always a demand for someone who has the technical skills and certification to perform those kinds of duties.”
He suggests that students who have completed a two-year degree in Health Information Technology take the AHIMA certification exams after graduating so that they’ll stand out from other graduates. Specifically, he suggested students take the RHIT (Registered Health Information Technician) and the Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) exam.
“That’s going to make them even more qualified for positions,” Hobbs said. “That’s something we always look for – someone who has taken the extra step of taking the coding exam,” he added.
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