Medical Records Technician Career Guide

Overview

The healthcare industry is divided into many different sections that can function independently and yet remain interrelated to provide wellness solutions to people from all walks of life. Specialists in this field are highly trained and qualified to offer their unique, crucial services both on their own and as part of a supporting team of health professionals. Medical records technicians are among these experts. These professionals deliver medical facility records and services to patients on a daily basis. They perform a number of duties to make the healthcare industry as a whole run more efficiently and responsibly, and to help patients receive the timely treatment they need. If you’d like a position in this field but would rather help people in a more behind the scenes fashion than serving as a traditional healthcare provider, you might consider fulfilling certain educational and training requirements to start on the path to your new career as a medical records technician.

Job Duties

A records technician’s primary responsibility is to organize, update, and manage medical records via databases and registries. By using different systems and techniques to classify, label, and code patient information, technicians ensure the records they maintain are easily accessible, accurate, and of the highest possible quality, regardless if they are in electronic or paper format. In doing so, they help medical records administrators, doctors, and physicians understand their patients’ histories and form treatment plans in a timely manner. Technicians also must maintain absolute security and confidentiality of patient records.

Although they do not work directly with patients, medical records technicians provide doctors and physicians with accurate information essential to clarify diagnosis for further treatments. Some specialties,such as medical coders,perform related tasks while also reviewing and retrieving patient information for other specialists. Others, such as cancer registrars, gather and examine relevant information specifically on cancer patients for assisting physicians and oncologists.

Career Outlook

With a strong academic background and years of experience in similar healthcare fields, medical records technicians should have no trouble finding employment in general medical and surgical hospitals, private physicians’ offices, nursing care facilities, outpatient care centers, and home healthcare service providers. As technology advances and doctors begin to rely heavily on the extensive use of electronic health records (EHRs), technicians have an ever-growing opportunity for employment. For that reason, they must be familiar with EHR computer software and its security procedures.

In May 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated about 180,280 medical records technicians were employed in the United States.

Salary Prospects

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,the average salary for medical records technicians is $35,920 per year.

Education Requirements

A post-secondary degree is the most basic requirement to enter this field. High school students might focus on computer science, health, and biology classes, then go on to an associate or bachelor degree program. Here, their courses will usually include anatomy, medical terminology, and physiology. Students must also develop a solid working knowledge of coding systems, healthcare statistics, and healthcare reimbursement methods

In addition to formal education, most employers also require professional certification. Often, these certification exams are prepared by the employer or a state agency. After several years, additional training may be required to pass recertification both to refresh existing knowledge and to gain familiarity with any changes that have occurred since certification was first passed.

Keep in mind that all certification and educational requirements may vary by state.

As well as being detail oriented, medical records technicians also must possess technical, interpersonal, and analytical skills to be successful in this career.

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