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Medical Records and Health Information Specialists

Summary

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Quick Facts: Medical Records and Health Information Specialists
2020 Median Pay $44,090 per year
$21.20 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Postsecondary nondegree award
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2019 341,600
Job Outlook, 2019-29 8% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2019-29 29,000

What Medical Records and Health Information Specialists Do

Medical records and health information specialists organize, manage, and code health information data.

Work Environment

Medical records and health information specialists typically spend many hours at a computer. Most work full time.

How to Become a Medical Records or Health Information Specialist

Medical records and health information specialists typically need a postsecondary certificate to enter the occupation, although some qualify with a high school diploma. Others need an associate’s or higher degree. Certification is often required.

Pay

The median annual wage for medical records and health information specialists was $44,090 in May 2020.

Job Outlook

Employment of medical records and health information specialists is projected to grow 8 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. The demand for health services is expected to increase along with the number of people in older age groups.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for medical records and health information specialists.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of medical records and health information specialists with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about medical records and health information specialists by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Medical Records and Health Information Specialists Do About this section

Medical records and health information specialists
Medical records and health information specialists verify and validate patients' health information, including their medical history, symptoms, and examination and test results.

Medical records and health information specialists organize, manage, and code health information data. They use various classification systems to code and categorize patient information for insurance reimbursement purposes, for databases and registries, and to maintain patients’ medical and treatment histories.

Duties

Medical records and health information specialists typically do the following:

  • Review patients’ records for timeliness, completeness, and accuracy
  • Organize and update information in clinical databases or registries
  • Use classification systems to assign clinical codes for insurance reimbursement and data analysis
  • Electronically record data for collection, storage, analysis, retrieval, and reporting
  • Maintain confidentiality of patients’ records

Medical records and health information specialists verify and validate patients’ health information, including their medical history, symptoms, examination and test results, treatments, and other information about healthcare services provided to patients. Their duties vary by employer and by the size of the facility in which they work.

Although medical records and health information specialists do not provide direct patient care, they work regularly with registered nurses and other healthcare workers. They meet with these workers to clarify diagnoses or to get additional information.

Medical records and health information specialists use electronic health records (EHRs) software, following EHR security and privacy practices to analyze electronic data and improve healthcare information.

The following are examples of types of medical records and health information specialists:

Cancer registrars review patients’ records and pathology reports to verify completeness and accuracy. They assign classification codes to represent the diagnosis and treatment of cancers and benign tumors. Cancer registrars conduct annual followups to track treatment, survival, and recovery. They compile and analyze cancer patient information for research purposes, and they maintain facility, regional, and national databases of cancer patients.

Health information technicians collect, analyze, and track treatment and followup information on patients. They respond to record requests and validate authorizations and other legal requests. These technicians also provide administrative support to other staff in the health information management department.

Medical coders assign the diagnosis and procedure codes for patient care, population health statistics, and billing purposes. For example, they might review patient information for preexisting conditions, such as diabetes, to ensure proper coding of patient data. They also work as the liaison between healthcare providers and billing offices.

Work Environment About this section

Medical records and health information technicians
This is one of the few health-related occupations in which there is no direct hands-on patient care.

Medical records and health information specialists held about 341,600 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of medical records and health information specialists were as follows:

Hospitals; state, local, and private 37%
Offices of physicians 15
Administrative and support services 5
Professional, scientific, and technical services 5
Management of companies and enterprises 4

Medical records and health information specialists typically work at a computer.

Work Schedules

Most medical records and health information specialists work full time. In healthcare facilities that are always open, such as hospitals, specialists may work evening or overnight shifts.

How to Become a Medical Records or Health Information Specialist About this section

Medical records and health information specialists
Medical records and health information specialists organize and update information in clinical databases or registries.

Medical records and health information specialists typically need a postsecondary certificate to enter the occupation, although some qualify with a high school diploma. Others need an associate’s or higher degree. Certification is often required.

Education

A high school diploma or equivalent and experience in a healthcare setting are enough to qualify for some positions, but others require postsecondary education.

Postsecondary certificate and degree programs in health information technology typically include courses in medical terminology, health data requirements and standards, and classification and coding systems. Applicants may increase their chances of admission by taking high school courses in health, computer science, math, and biology.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Employers may prefer to hire medical records and health information specialists who have certification, or they may expect applicants to earn certification shortly after being hired. Certifications available for medical records and health information specialists include the Certified Professional Coder (CPC), the Certified Coding Associate (CCA), and the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT).

Some certifications require candidates to pass an exam. Others require graduation from an accredited program. Many coding certifications also require coding experience in a work setting. Once certified, specialists typically must renew their certification regularly and take continuing education courses.

A few states and facilities require cancer registrars to be certified. Certification as a Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR) requires completion of a formal education program and experience, along with passing an exam.

Advancement

Specialists may advance to become medical or health services managers after completing a higher certification program or earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree in health information technology. Requirements vary by facility.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Medical records and health information specialists must interpret medical documentation to assess diagnoses, which they then code into a patient’s medical records.

Detail oriented. Medical records and health information specialists must be precise about verifying and coding patient information.

Integrity. Medical records and health information specialists must exercise discretion and act ethically when working with patient data to protect patient confidentiality, as required by law.

Interpersonal skills. Medical records and health information specialists need to be able to discuss patient information, discrepancies, and data requirements with physicians, finance personnel, and other workers involved in patient care and recordkeeping.

Pay About this section

Medical Records and Health Information Specialists

Median annual wages, May 2020

Health technologists and technicians

$45,620

Medical records and health information specialists

$44,090

Total, all occupations

$41,950

 

The median annual wage for medical records and health information specialists was $44,090 in May 2020. 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 $28,800, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $73,370.

In May 2020, the median annual wages for medical records and health information specialists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Management of companies and enterprises $50,010
Hospitals; state, local, and private 46,880
Administrative and support services 43,890
Professional, scientific, and technical services 43,460
Offices of physicians 39,190

Most medical records and health information specialists work full time. In healthcare facilities that are always open, such as hospitals, specialists may work evening or overnight shifts.

Job Outlook About this section

Medical Records and Health Information Specialists

Percent change in employment, projected 2019-29

Medical records and health information specialists

8%

Health technologists and technicians

8%

Total, all occupations

4%

 

Employment of medical records and health information specialists is projected to grow 8 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.

An aging population will require more medical services, and medical records and health information specialists will be needed to organize and manage the older generations’ health information data. This will mean more claims for reimbursement from insurance companies.

Additional records, coupled with widespread use of electronic health records (EHRs) by all types of healthcare providers, will lead to an increased need for specialists to organize and manage the associated information in all areas of the healthcare industry.

Cancer registrars are expected to continue to be in high demand. With an increase in the older population, there will likely be more types of special purpose registries because many illnesses are detected and treated later in life.

Employment projections data for medical records and health information specialists, 2019-29
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2019 Projected Employment, 2029 Change, 2019-29 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Medical dosimetrists, medical records specialists, and health technologists and technicians, all other

29-2098 341,600 370,600 8 29,000 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of medical records and health information specialists.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2020 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Medical transcriptionists Medical Transcriptionists

Medical transcriptionists listen to voice recordings that physicians and other healthcare workers make and convert them into written reports.

Postsecondary nondegree award $35,270
Medical and health services managers Medical and Health Services Managers Medical and health services managers plan, direct, and coordinate the business activities of healthcare providers.

Bachelor's degree $104,280
Information clerks Information Clerks

Information clerks perform routine clerical duties, maintain records, collect data, and provide information to customers.

See How to Become One $36,920
Pharmacy technicians Pharmacy Technicians

Pharmacy technicians help pharmacists dispense prescription medication to customers or health professionals.

High school diploma or equivalent $35,100
Medical assistants Medical Assistants

Medical assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks in hospitals, offices of physicians, and other healthcare facilities.

Postsecondary nondegree award $35,850
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Medical Records and Health Information Specialists,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-records-and-health-information-technicians.htm (visited July 24, 2021).

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, April 14, 2021

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2020 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2020, the median annual wage for all workers was $41,950.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2019

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2019, which is the base year of the 2019-29 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2019-29

The projected percent change in employment from 2019 to 2029. The average growth rate for all occupations is 4 percent.

Employment Change, 2019-29

The projected numeric change in employment from 2019 to 2029.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2019-29

The projected numeric change in employment from 2019 to 2029.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2019 to 2029.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2019 to 2029.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2019 to 2029.

2020 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2020, the median annual wage for all workers was $41,950.