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Health Information Technology

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AAS Degree – Code #1969

Erica Matteson, RHIA, Program Coordinator
Email address: matteses@alfredstate.edu
 

Health information technology (HIT) professionals play a key role in the planning, implementation, and management of the electronic health record (EHR), and with today’s growing reliance on computer-based records, this profession has become one of the fastest-growing in the nation. HIT professionals are educated in the leadership and management of health information, and are considered the custodians of health information.

In this career, your primary function will be to make sure all the medical information collected about an individual is complete, accurate, and protected, while, at the same time, readily available for health care providers when it is needed. Alfred State offers an online Associate of Applied Science degree in health information technology, which combines a profession in health care with information technology. As an HIT professional, you will be responsible for maintaining components of health information systems consistent with medical, legal, accreditation, and regulatory requirements of the health care delivery system. You will also maintain, collect, and analyze data crucial to the delivery of quality patient care.

Advantages

  • Graduates are eligible to take the national certification examination to become a registered health information technician (RHIT). Since 1968, when the program was created, Alfred State HIT graduates have traditionally achieved a passing rate above the national average.

Program Student Learning Objectives

  • Apply biomedical knowledge (including medical terminology, anatomy & physiology, pathophysiology, and pharmacology) to apply diagnosis/procedure codes (ICD-9-CM, ICD-10-CM, ICD-10-PCS, CPT, and HCPCS level II according to current nomenclature.
  • Use established federal guidelines, accreditation standards, and APC and DRG calculator/grouper software to comply with health care documentation (review), reimbursement, and reporting requirements.
  • Apply HIM knowledge as defined by organizational policy and external regulations (e.g., Medicare, Medicaid, managed care) and standards to maintain the accuracy and completeness of the patient record.
  • Apply HIM knowledge of policies and procedures for confidentiality and security measures regarding the access and disclosure of protected health information (PHI) to authorized users.
  • Apply HIM knowledge in the collection, maintenance, and reporting of data for clinical indices/databases/registries to meet specific organizational and regulatory needs for the purposes of medical research and education.
  • Organize and present data for quality management, utilization management, risk management, and other related studies.
  • Apply HIM knowledge of legal, ethical, accreditation and certification standards as appropriate for the management of patient information.
  • Apply basic methods when calculating descriptive, institutional, and health care vital statistics.
  • Apply the use of common software applications (e.g., spreadsheets, databases, word processing, graphics, presentation, email, and so on) and HIM-related software applications (e.g., release of information, electronic health record, patient record abstracting, and so on).
  • Apply HIM knowledge to promote ethical standards of practice to health information management and coding.
  • Demonstrate effective written and oral communication as appropriate to health information management and coding practices. Communicate effectively with consumers, providers, and other health care professionals.
  • Demonstrate critical thinking to problem solving and reasoning skills to health information management and coding practices.

Direct Entry Into Baccalaureate Degree Program

Alfred State health information technology graduates may enter directly into either the healthcare management BTech, the interdisciplinary studies BTech, or the technology management BBA degree program.

Professional Practice Experiences

Students complete non-paid professional practice experiences (PPEs) in the Health Information Department of a health care facility (160 hours) in their study. PPE arrangements are made in consultation with each student so that convenient locations are selected. Students are not a substitute for paid staff during PPEs, which means they are expected to receive appropriate supervision and mentoring during completion of all tasks. The professional practical experience (PPE) includes the completion of on-site hours in the Health Information Management (HIM) Department of a hospital (or other health care facility) with adequate facilities to provide varied work opportunities in HIM. 

The Joint Commission Hospital Accreditation Standards Manual requires hospitals to implement “a process to ensure that a person’s qualifications are consistent with his/her job responsibilities.” This standard “applies to staff, students, and volunteers,” and it further states the hospital is responsible for verifying “the following according to law, regulation, or hospital policy: information on criminal background.” As such, Alfred State students who complete PPEs in the HIT program may be required to undergo a criminal background check prior to placement at the facility. In addition, the facility may require students to undergo a physical examination (on-site at the facility or by the student’s primary care provider) prior to beginning the professional practice experience. The physical examination includes drug screening, a TB test, and/or DTB, hepatitis B, and/or MMRV immunization or status. Students may be required to incur costs associated with the criminal background check and/or physical examination.

Students may be required to attend an on-site orientation at the professional practice facility, which could be several days in length beyond the 160 PPE hours. Students must make appropriate arrangements with their current employer to complete the 160 hours at the PPE host site. 

Articulation Agreements

One-plus-one transfer agreements exist among Alfred State and Jamestown and American Somoa Community Colleges. Students complete their first year of study at the local community college and transfer to Alfred State for their second year. Transfer is guaranteed if a student successfully completes the prescribed first-year schedule of courses with a 2.0 cumulative index. 

Continuing Education Opportunities

Although not limited to these schools, common transfer institutions for HIT bachelor's degree programs include SUNY Polytechnic, Stephens College, St. Scholastica, Regis University, University of Cincinnati, and Saint Joseph's College of Maine.

Occupational Opportunities

  • Hospitals and other health care facilities
  • Clinics and physicians' offices
  • Insurance companies
  • State and federal agencies
  • Law/computer firms
  • Software companies
  • Consulting

Employment Statistics

Employment and continuing education rate of 83 percent – 75 percent are employed; 8 percent continued their education.

Survey Details 2012 2013 2014 2015  2016
Receiving Degrees 19 33 31 23 28
Responding to Survey 13 (68%) 26 (79%) 23 (74%) 9 (39%) 22 (79%)
Employed 12 (92%) 24 (92%) 17 (74%) 7 (78%) 16 (73%)
Employed in Field 12 (92%) 20 (83%) 17 (74%) 7 (100%) 16 (100%)
Transferred 1 (8%) 1 (4%) 3 (13%) 1 (11%) 4 (18%)
Unemployed & Seeking Employment -- 1 (4%) 3 (13%) - 2 (9%)
Unemployed & Not Seeking Employment - - - - -
           
Source: Website (Career Development Office) Employment and Continuing Education Report 2014

Accreditation/Certification

cahiim-accredited-sealThe health information technology program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) [233 N. Michigan Ave., 21st Floor, Chicago, IL 60601-5800, 312-233-1100, www.cahiim.org/]. CAHIIM is an independent accrediting organization that enforces quality Accreditation Standards for Health Informatics and Health Information Management (HIM) educational programs through accreditation.

CAHIIM accredits associate and baccalaureate degree programs in health information management and master's degree programs in the health informatics and health information management professions. CAHIIM is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) [One Dupont Circle NW, Suite 510, Washington, DC 20036, 202-955-6126, chea@chea.org]. CHEA is a nationally recognized nongovernmental higher education organization that undertakes recognition of accrediting bodies. 

Alfred State is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education [3624 Market St., Philadelphia, PA 19104, 215-662-5606]. 

Certification

Graduates are eligible to take the Certified Coding Specialist (CCA, CCS and CCS-P) and Certified Professional Coder (CPC, CPC-A, CPC-H-A, CPC-H and CPC-P) exams. It is strongly recommended students complete technical elective courses in this area of study and work for a minimum of one year as a coder before taking the coding certification exam(s). 

Related Programs

Coding & Reimbursement Specialist
Computer Information Systems

Entrance Requirements/Recommendations

Required: High school keyboarding, biology, MS Office Professional or equivalent.

Must be able to attend Professional Practice Experience (PPE) courses, including 160 hours at a health care facility within reasonable driving/travel distance to their home.

Health Information Technology - AAS Degree

TYPICAL FOUR-SEMESTER PROGRAM - Full-time

This program is offered as an Internet-based program only

First

BIOL 1114 Human Anat & Physiology I 4
COMP 1503 Freshman Composition 3
MEDR 1133 Medical Terminology 3
MEDR 1132 Essentials of Pharmacology 2
MEDR 1114 Intro to Health Info Managemnt 4
      16

Second

BIOL 2214 Human Anat & Physiology II 4
BIOL 4403 Pathophysiology 3
MEDR 3114 Electronic Health Record Mgmt 4
MEDR 1234 ICD-10-CM & ICD-10-PCS Coding 4
MATH 1113 Statistical Concepts 3
  *Recommended by CAHIM    
    OR  
PSYC 1013 General Psychology 3
    OR  
SOCI 1163 General Sociology 3
      18

Third

MEDR 1223 Hlth Data Mgmt & Hlthcare Stat 3
MEDR 1244 CPT & HCPCS Level II Coding 4
MEDR 4214 Insurance&Reimbursmt Processng 4
MEDR 3414 Quality & Legal Aspects of HIM 4
PHIL 2013 Critical Thinking 3
  *Recommended by CAHIM    
    OR   
LITR 2603 Introduction to Literature 3
    OR   
LITR 2343 Children's Literature 3
    OR   
SPAN 1203 Spanish I 3
      18

Fourth

MEDR 4514 Alternate Care Hlth Info Mgmt 4
MEDR 4213 Leadership in Health Info Tech 3
MEDR 2614 Advanced Coding & Reimbursemnt 4
MEDR 4312 HIM Operations PPE 2
MEDR 4322 Coding PPE 2
MEDR 4111 Health Informatn Tech Seminar 1
      16

Be advised that a prior felony conviction may impede a student’s ability to participate in a required professional practice experience.

General Notes

Working in the Health Information Management HIM profession requires long periods of standing and/or sitting.

Job duties typically include handling paper documents and use of computer screens.

Near vision reading of paper records or computer screens, including the use of multiple computer applications, is required 95 percent of the time.

Documents are handwritten on paper, and other documents and information used are on computer screens, including scanned documents and images.

The computer screen fonts may be small. The extensive use of a computer keyboard and mouse is required.

HIM professionals spend the greater portion of the work day reading and analyzing both handwritten and computerized documents and use multiple software applications such as the electronic health record.

Individuals should assess their personal limitations and abilities within these working environments, as HIM candidates will be assessed in all of these skill sets during the hiring process.

Graduation Requirements

HIT students are required to earn a grade of at least a "C" or better in each BIOL and MEDR prefix course prior to placement in the PPEs. Students must also earn a grade of at least a "C" in all BIOL, MEDR, and COMP 1503 courses to graduate from the HIT program. 

MEDR 2614 (advanced coding & reimbursement) may be taken in the last semester as an elective.