Bureau of Labor Statistics

Medical Records and Health Information Specialists

medical records and health information specialists image
Medical records and health information specialists meet with other healthcare workers to clarify diagnoses or to get additional information.
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

Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Occupational Title

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

SOC Code29-2098
Employment, 2019341,600
Projected Employment, 2029370,600
Percent Change, 2019-298
Numeric Change, 2019-2929,000
Employment by IndustryGet data

State & Area Data

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

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 2020 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

Contacts for More Info

For more information about medical records and health information specialists, including details about certification, visit

American Health Information Management Association

American Academy of Professional Coders

National Healthcareer Association

For more information about cancer registrars, visit

National Cancer Registrars Association

For a list of accredited training programs, visit

Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education

CareerOneStop

For a career video on medical records and health information specialists, visit

Medical Records and Health Information Specialists

O*NET

Health Information Technologists and Medical Registrars

Health Technologists and Technicians, All Other

Medical Dosimetrists

Medical Records Specialists

Neurodiagnostic Technologists

Ophthalmic Medical Technologists

Patient Representatives

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, April 14, 2021

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 April 15, 2021).

Telephone: 1-202-691-5700 www.bls.gov/ooh Contact OOH

View this page on regular www.bls.gov

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