Health information management (HIM) is the process of organizing, tracking and maintaining paperwork for patients in clinics, doctors’ offices and hospitals. This industry also involves analyzing the paperwork and communicating with doctors to ensure that patients are treated properly, given appropriate medication and released or retained as needed. Health records may be taken by hand or on a computer, and patient data can either be stored in a filing system or on a computer. Health information managers are responsible for keeping track of this information, wherever it may be.
Medical records demand privacy, so those who become involved in health data management must be detail-oriented, organized and able to keep files confidential. Duties of a health information manager include managing cases, coordinating medical and pharmacology research, designing and selling software, managing information systems, directing a health information department, managing an office, undertaking compliance responsibility, enforcing regulations and restrictions, and securing and privatizing information. On three basic levels, health information management requires clinical skills, technological skills and leadership/management skills.
Due to the nature of the environment in which they work, HIM personnel must be familiar with medical practices and rules. Study and training will have prepared the health information specialist to work in a patient setting and stay abreast of medical developments and issues. Technological skills are required because health information management involves constantly updating a system for organizing paperwork. Those in the HIM community are becoming more educated in information technology to track, maintain and update medical records. Finally, managing health information requires strong leadership skills to uphold privacy standards and step up to various roles in the department as needed.
HIM professionals not only file patient data, but they often must code the diagnosis and treatment plans using a system agreed upon by the staff of the institution. Those in health information management most often work in hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices or care facilities, but other environments include insurance companies and government agencies. Additional duties of an HIM professional at these institutions include ensuring that the records are complete and accurate, finding appropriate support or opinions for treatment, enhancing data usage, complying with health information standards, preparing the data for surveys and analyzing the records for research or policy uses.