Career Profile: Medical Records Specialist

Nurse Anesthesiologist

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Job Description:

Also Called: Medical Records Technician, Health Information Technician

The Medical Records Specialist's primary area of responsibility is to organize and update the medical records of patients every time a patient receives some form of medical care. Medical records contain all patient observations including the initial medical chart data, all historic health treatments, appointments, payments, insurance records, inoculations, and more. A patient's medical record can often be the key factor used when a doctor prescribes the specific type of treatment. There's absolutely no room for error in this profession, which is why this role is key to the success of every medical institution.

Digital Medical Records:

A very exciting change is about to revolutionize the medical record field. The healthcare industry is finally ready to migrate from paper to an all digital medical record keeping system. This will eventually mean that a patient can carry an electronic copy of their medical history with them all times. Only the medical record tech will have the ability to add or modify this data. During this transition over to digital medical record keeping, the recent grads of Medical Record schools will have a distinct advantage, given their exposure to the new electronic recordkeeping. It’s expected that demand for trained technicians will far exceed the available supply, thus driving up salaries and expectations as well.

Working Environment:

Medical records and health information technicians usually work a 40-hour week. If the work is hospital-based, shifts can be morning, afternoon and evening, as hospital records departments are often open 24 hours a day. Medical record specialists generally work in comfortable office settings. The majority of their work is done on a computer and this will only increase as the migration takes place from paper to digital medical record keeping.

Education and Training Requirements

Employers are looking for well organized individuals with an associate's degree from a community or junior college. Coursework in a typical degree program includes medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, statistics, database management, and computer science, among others.

Salary Range:

Medical Records Specialists can earn up to $45,000 but it's expected after the migration over to pure digital, salaries will increase as the supply of new grads falls short of industry demand.

Job Outlook:

Very good. Like all medical administrative careers, employment of medical records and health information technicians is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations for the rest of the decade. Many jobs will be created outside of a hospital setting, in such settings as physicians' offices, nursing care facilities, and outpatient centers, due to an increased demand for detailed medical records.

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