Health Information Management Careers for Military, Veterans & Spouses
Health Information Management Careers for Active Duty, Veterans and Military Spouses
Careers in Health Information Management (HIM) are among the fastest growing occupations in the US. The massive amount of data generated in healthcare – much of which is personal information that it protected by law – requires trained individuals to effectively manage it.
Health information includes any data related to healthcare – diagnoses, health history, medical procedures, lab results, or x-ray images. Managing this data involves collection, analysis, and ensuring its protection. Health information differs from other types of data in that it is protected by law.
HIPAA – A Brief History and Explanation
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was signed into law in 1996 to improve the portability of health insurance for employees changing jobs. HIPPA encouraged a shift from paper to electronic medical records.
HIPAA includes rules that define what counts as protected health information (Privacy Rule), explain how protected information is safeguarded (Security Rule), and outlines consequences of failure to follow safeguards (Enforcement Rule).
The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) came into play in 2009 and accelerated the use of electronic medical records.
HIPAA is the set of rules that demands data security in healthcare. Together with HITECH, it accelerated the amount of electronic data produced by healthcare. This results in a high demand for Health Information Management Careers in order to manage a large amount of data according to the laws designed to protect it.
Health Information Management Certifications
Medical coding is the translation of health information into universal alphanumeric codes. Closely related, medical billing involves filing claims with health insurance companies based on the translated information. Other roles related to HIM include auditing, compliance, and management.
Careers in HIM often allow people to work in healthcare with little to no contact with patients. Training generally involves learning coding systems like ICD-10 and CPT, anatomy, medical terminology, and principles of data security and management.
The three leading certification bodies for Health Information Management are The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), and Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS).
- Health Information Administrator (RHIA)
- Health Information Technician (RHIT)
- Coding Associate (CCA)
- Coding Specialist (CCS)
- Documentation Improvement Practitioner (CDIP)
- Coding Specialist – Physician-based (CCS-P)
- Health Data Analyst (CHDA)
- Healthcare Privacy and Security (CHPS)
- Professional Coder (CPC)
- Outpatient Coder (COC)
- Inpatient Coder (CIC)
- Risk Adjustment Coder (CRC)
- Professional Biller (CPB)
- Professional Medical Auditor (CPMA)
- Documentation Expert Outpatient (CDEO)
- Professional Compliance Officer (CPCO)
- Physician Practice Manager (CPPM)
- Associate in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CAHIMS)
- Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS)
Do HIM Careers Require a Degree?
Some do. An associate degree is required for RHIT. A Bachelor’s degree is required for RHIA or CPHIMS certification. Training for many HIM certifications can be completed online in a matter of months and does not require completion of a degree.
Salary increases with education level. Average salary ranges are:
- Associate degree – $20 – 30,000
- Bachelor degrees – $30 – 50,000 at entry level
Learn about GI-Bill Approved Schools with Healthcare Administration programs through a simple College Recon search.
While certification does not require membership, joining a professional organization can offer significant financial and educational benefits. All 3 organizations listed above offer the following discounted student memberships.
- AAPC – $90 student membership
- AHIMA – $49 student membership
- HIMSS – $30 student membership
Can I Work in HIM Without Certification?
Maybe. However, certification validates skills in a particular role. The HIM certifications listed above are nationally recognized. This shows potential employers that you are qualified, increases likelihood of hire, improves career portability, and can lead to higher salary than someone who does not hold a certification.
Affordable Training and Certification for HIM Careers
Members of the military community have multiple opportunities to complete training and certification in HIM.
Credentialing Assistance Programs
Any active duty service members can earn any of the HIMSS or AHIMA certifications through this credentialing assistance program. Credentialing assistance programs include:
- Army COOL
- Coast Guard COOL
- Marine Corps COOL
- Navy COOL
- Air Force COOL
- DoD Civilian COOL
AAPC is offering significantly discounted training – up to 57% off – until June 30th.
It may require some digging to find a Massive Open Online Class (MOOC) that leads to eligibility for certification. However, tons of MOOCS related to HIM are available. MOOCs courses available cover topics like data analytics and management – and are often free.
Recently expanded, the MyCAA program is available to certain military spouses. Eligible spouses can receive up to $4,000 in tuition assistance over two years for an associate degree, obtaining a license, or complete certification in any career field.
There are multiple scholarships available for those pursuing a career in HIM. Keep in mind that membership to an organization can boost the competitiveness of a scholarship application.
- The AHIMA Foundation offers 4 merit-based scholarships for students pursuing degrees related to AHIMA Certifications. These scholarships range from $1,000-$2,500.
- The HIMSS Foundation offers multiple scholarships. The Georgia, New England and South Florida HIMSS chapters sponsor additional scholarships.
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About the author
Chelsea Bostelman is a registered nurse who stays busy with freelance writing, exploring Europe, and working on a graduate degree in nursing. She founded the Stuttgart Nurse Journal Club to provide underemployed nurses with free continuing education opportunities. A 10-year military spouse, she and her family spend their free time hiking, biking, and eating in southern Germany.