Building a Career in Electronic Medical Records

With increasing automation of medical records and growing use of mobile devices by healthcare providers in medical settings, career opportunities in electronic medical records are increasing. Jobs for medical records and health information technicians should increase by 15% between 2014 and 2024, which is double the average growth rate for all occupations nationwide, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports.

For career-changers and college students seeking to use their technology skills in a healthcare setting, the field of electronic medical records (EMR) can offer a variety of career opportunities.

Levels of Professional Development for EMR

Electronic medical records professionals are employed across diverse healthcare settings, where they store and access medical information. They generally need a two-year associate’s degree as well as professional certification, according to the BLS. Among the national credentialing organizations are the American Health Information Management Association and the American Academy of Professional Coders.

Professionals seeking more advanced opportunities in the field will likely need at least a bachelor’s degree, while those aspiring to leadership opportunities, such as health information manager, instructor or supervisor, generally require a master’s degree.

Ongoing education and professional development are common aspects of this field, preparing individuals to explore various career paths, including working with medical records directly, acting as a liaison among healthcare providers and technology vendors, providing training and becoming a supervisor. Career advancement typically requires a combination of well-developed technical skills and educational knowledge. Attending seminars, joining professional organizations and participating in employer-based training are common practices for EMR professionals.

Employment Settings, Salary Potential and Other Considerations in EMR

Electronic medical records professionals work in hospitals, physicians’ offices, assisted living facilities, treatment centers and a variety of other healthcare settings. There may be opportunities to work remotely and EMR professionals who provide consultation or training services may travel as part of their duties.

The average annual salary for health information and medical records technicians was $41,460 as of May 2016, the BLS reports, with the top 10% earning more than $62,840. Salary ranges and employment opportunities are influenced by numerous factors, including an individual’s educational qualifications and work history, as well as specific employer and local market conditions.

Candidates must not only demonstrate solid skills and knowledge but also exhibit the integrity necessary when dealing with sensitive medical data and personal information. Additional attributes sought by employers may include strong organizational skills and highly developed communication skills, both verbal and written. Staying current with the fast-changing technology and regulations in the field is also vital to long-term growth and career advancement.

For students and professionals interested in incorporating their technical expertise into a career in a health-related field, job openings in electronic medical records present a diversity of potential pathways. While entering the field with a two-year associate’s degree is possible, a four-year bachelor’s degree may be required to attain advanced job opportunities. Some employers, such as hospitals, private healthcare facilities and government agencies, may provide tuition assistance or reimbursement programs, as well as in-house training, so time spent researching options for growth in this field is highly recommended.

Ongoing education is important in order to keep credentials current and to advance into leadership roles. Enrolling in a nationally ranked and regionally accredited university can help students secure a competitive edge by attaining the body of knowledge necessary to pass credentialing exams.

With a strong employment outlook in the coming years, a career in electronic medical records may offer a wide range of opportunities in a vital and growing part of the healthcare industry.

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