Health information management is a specialized field that requires an understanding of (and collaboration with) information technology and health care administration, two areas that require varying skill sets, education, and experience.

  • Information technology focuses on systems for storing, retrieving, and accessing information.
  • Health care administration focuses on the management and administration of hospitals, networks, and health care systems.

Here, Earla White, RHIA, faculty member in Capella University’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences Department of Health Care, and Natasha Cauley, MPH, faculty member in Capella University’s School of Business and Technology Department of Technology, discuss how these two fields come together and what health information management involves.

 

Q. What is health information management?

A. It’s helpful first to define health information, which is data related to the health history of a person or population. This includes health data such as birth and death certificates, quality of care statistics, and more.

Health information management (HIM) is the discipline in which this data is stored, governed, and used to improve the quality of health care. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) is a good resource for HIM professionals.

 

Q. What soft skills are needed in health information management?

A. HIM professionals need to be meticulous in their roles working with qualitative and quantitative data. The ability to collaborate also required, as they work closely with other members of the health care team.

They should also be adaptable to change and open learning new skills. Health care is ever-evolving, and different technologies are being introduced—being able to adjust to change in a growing field will be vital to the work environment.

Other skills include an element of caring, timeliness, and dependability.

 

Q. Capella has two bachelor’s programs with a health information management focus—one in information technology focus and one in health care administration. What’s the difference between them?

A. The two programs differentiate the functions of managing health information.

A bachelor’s in information technology, health information management degree emphasizes the technology elements to support business solutions. This often encompasses the organization of resources, devices, and methods used to optimize the storage and use of health information. Health care technology continues to evolve at a dizzying pace, and HIT professionals must stay up-to-date on the latest developments.

Core courses include topics related to information technology, like web and database systems, programming, and network technology.

 

A bachelor’s in health care administration, health information management degree emphasizes overarching administrative elements to support clinical data systems and management of health information.

Core courses include topics like health care regulation and compliance, budgeting and reporting, and patient safety and quality.

 

Most specialization courses are shared between programs, highlighting and strengthening the collaboration between the two disciplines. Shared courses include:

  • Medical Terminology
  • Data Management in Health Information Systems
  • Statistical Analysis for Health Information Management
  • Electronic Health Records and Health Information Systems

Students in this program will experience practical, hands-on learning designed around best practices in a safe, interactive virtual lab environment. This platform allows students to develop skills by practicing with tools used in the industry. In addition, students have the opportunity to work in real-world, cross-functional scenarios with health care administration students in Capella’s unique, simulated health care setting, Vila Health.

Students also have access to interactive digital flashcards to help engage with new information. These flashcards can be pulled up to help better remember information, prepare for exams, or simply as a quick reference.

 

Q. What careers are available in each of these areas?

A. Related job titles for HIM professionals with an IT focus include:

  • Clinical systems architect
  • Network administrator
  • Software developer
  • Data architect

Potential employment settings include:

  • Clinic
  • Health care system
  • Insurance company
  • HMO administrative office
  • Long-term care organization

 

Related job titles for HIM professionals with an HCA focus include:

  • Patient registrar
  • Health information management abstractor
  • Health informatics support specialist
  • Physician office health information specialist

Potential employment settings include:

  • Hospital
  • Physician or dentist office
  • Managed care organization
  • Insurance company
  • Public health department

 

 

Learn more about Capella’s health information management bachelor’s programs:

 

Important Information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rate of students who attended these programs.
* Disclaimer