Health Information Technology A.S. - Common Questions
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Question 1: What is a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT)?
Employment of Health Information Technicians is expected to increase by 21 percent from now thru 2020, faster than the average for all occupations as the demand for health services is expected to increase as our population ages. An increased need for additional testing/treatment and procedures will result in additional claims processing for reimbursement from private/public insurance. The processing of these additional records coupled with the widespread use of electronic health information by all types of healthcare providers, should lead to an increased need for technicians to organize and manage the associated information in all areas of the health care industry.
A Health Information Technician is responsible for organizing and managing this health information data to ensure its quality, accuracy, accessibility and security in both paper and electronic systems. Upon successful completion of the A.S. degree in the Health Information Technology program, these students are now eligible to take the national examination to become a Registered Health Information Technician.
These professionals could be responsible for collecting, storing, processing, retrieving, analyzing, disseminating and communicating information related to reimbursement, research, planning and delivery of health care services.
They could use various classification systems to code and categorize patient information for reimbursement purposes, for facility, regional and national databases and registries, and to maintain patients’ medical and treatment histories.
Important qualities of a RHIT include analytical skills, being detailed oriented, interpersonal and technical skills. These graduates may be employed in a variety of settings including physician’s office settings/clinics, long-term care facilities, home health care agencies, ambulatory setting, federal health care agencies, behavioral health care organizations, insurance companies, government agencies and acute care hospitals.
Question 2: Who do I contact for program information?
Question 3: When and where are classes offered for this program?
The prerequisite support courses and the General Education courses are offered at any campus, every semester. Many are also offered online.
The core courses (HIM/HIMC) are offered at the Cocoa campus only and generally held during the day. The program begins Fall term. Please refer to the college course schedule for specific days and time.
Question 4: What type of degree do I receive after completing the program?
Upon successful completion, you will receive an Associate in Science degree (A.S.) in Health Information Technology. Students should be very clear about their goals and the differences between the Certificate and A.S. degree programs that EFSC offers in Health/Medical Information. The Nursing & Health Science Advisors will assist students seeking advisement on these programs.
Question 5: How can I enter the Health Information Technology program?
All students must complete an EFSC general application and a program application, with details under the APPLICATION PROCEDURE link. Admission to the program is "limited access”, and includes completion of general education courses and some support courses within the previous 10 yrs (see SELECTION CRITERIA, APPLICATION PROCEDURE and PROGRAM OF STUDY links for more details.)
Question 6: How many, and how often, are students admitted into the program?
Program Acceptance occurs only once a year for a start in the Fall Term. Students are admitted in accordance with the provisions set forth in the SELECTION CRITERIA. Students can begin non-HIM prefix (support & general education) classes any semester and at any campus. The core courses (HIM) are offered in specific semesters. Class size is limited to 25 students per cohort (each year).
Question 7: Are there specific prerequisites required?
Prior to the program final deadline, your General Education Courses and Support courses must be completed. As stated on the program curriculum, students are allowed to take ANY Humanities and Social/Behavioral Science course; however, it is recommended that the following courses are chosen – WORLD RELIGIONS (Humanities requirement) and Algebra (Computation/Natural Science requirement). The support courses must be completed within the previous 10 years of the application deadline.
Question 8: What is the length of the program?
The amount of time spent completing support prerequisite and general education courses is entirely up to you. The core classes in the program, after program acceptance, are designed for completion in two years. Please note that we do not accept core (HIM/HIMC) courses that are more than three years old.
Question 9: Do I have to earn the College Credit Certificate in Medical Information Coding/Billing prior to pursuing the A.S. degree in Health Information Technology?
No. If accepted to the A.S. degree program, the Program Manager can set up a special plan for you to complete the lower-level HIM courses and successfully graduate with an A.S. degree.
Question 10: What if I have all the experience and current certifications for the lower level HIM courses at the start of the program sequence?
We have a "Fast-Track" option available for you.
This option is only available to those who have previously graduated from a program in the Medical Information Coding and Billing field or who already work in the field. In addition to the rest of the application steps on this page, those wishing to pursue the Fast Track Option must meet the following requirements:
- Student must have graduated from an approved program (AHIMA/AAPC) within a minimum of 3 years prior to acceptance to the AS/HIT program, and/or
- Student must hold a current AHIMA/AAPC certification, and/or
- Student must currently be employed in the field for at least 3 years
Proof/Copies of the above qualification(s) is required with your application. Graduates of an approved program will be awarded 34 credit hours toward the A.S. degree. You must submit documentation with your application packet.
Question 11: Where can I expect to be employed and what salary can I expect?
You can work in hospitals, clinics, government agencies, nursing or mental health facilities, law firms, corporations, insurance companies or any place that relies on accurate records of a patient’s care. The wide variety of employers gives you many career opportunities in many different places. The result is an exciting job, good salary and benefits, and a lifestyle in the city or town of your choice.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the median annual wage of medical records and health information technicians was $32,350 in May 2010. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $21,240, and the top 10 percent earned more than $53,430. Most medical records and health information technicians work full time. Some work evenings or weekends to cover shifts in medical facilities that remain open 24 hours a day.
Job Outlook: Employment of medical records and health information technicians is expected to increase by over 20 percent in the next decade, faster than the average for all occupations. The demand for health services is expected to increase as the population ages. An aging population will need more medical tests, treatments, and procedures. This will also mean more claims for reimbursement from private and public insurance. Additional records, coupled with widespread use of electronic health records by all types of healthcare providers, should lead to an increased need for technicians to organize and manage the associated information in all areas of the healthcare industry.
Question 12: What about Professional support?
As a student in our Health Information Technology program, you will be immediately introduced to the professional association, AHIMA (American Health Information Management Association). Membership in this association is mandatory, to be eligible for the RHIT certification. Benefits include access to industry related information and legislation, and possible employment opportunities through networking on the local chapter level.
Question 13: Do I need to take a licensing exam after I graduate?
HIM professionals are not licensed. Instead, they take national credentialing exams.
The HIT Program is planning to apply for accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). Successful completion of EFSC's program will enable students to take the AHIMA National Certification Examination to become a RHIT and be deemed as bona fide specialists responsible for evaluating completeness and accuracy of documentation for healthcare services that doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers rely on to deliver quality healthcare.
Question 14: What about transferring the coursework to a four-year degree program?
If you are interested in the Bachelor of Applied Science degree with a Healthcare Focus at EFSC, please consult an BAS advisor, as the HIT A.S. will transfer.
The Certificate and A.S. degree program are not intended as pathways for transfer to most four-year universities. They are generally designed for direct entry into employment. These courses are application-driven and are intended to create immediate job skills.
If intending to transfer to a university level of study, a General A.A. Degree educational track is usually recommended. Please refer to the intended transfer institution for Bachelor's program-specific admission requirements and speak with a Nursing & Health Science Advisor.