Career Development

What Does an HIM Specialist Do?

Find out what an HIM Specialist does, how to get this job, salary information, and what it takes to succeed as an HIM Specialist.

The HIM Specialist role is centered around managing patient health information and medical records, adhering to regulatory and data management guidelines. This position ensures the accuracy, accessibility, and security of both paper and electronic systems. Professionals in this field play an essential role in coding diagnoses and procedures for reimbursement and research, while also maintaining patient confidentiality and information governance standards. Their work supports the seamless exchange of information within healthcare settings, contributing to the quality of patient care and the efficiency of healthcare services. Through their expertise, HIM Specialists facilitate the integration of information technology and healthcare, ensuring that medical records are properly maintained, up-to-date, and readily available for clinical decision-making, billing, and analysis purposes.

HIM Specialist Job Duties

  • Manage and maintain patients’ health records, ensuring their accuracy, accessibility, and security in both paper and electronic systems.
  • Code and categorize patient information for reimbursement purposes, database content, research, and to maintain patients’ medical and treatment histories.
  • Release information to persons and agencies according to regulations, ensuring confidentiality of patient records.
  • Perform regular audits of health information for compliance with policies, laws, and regulations regarding privacy, security, and confidentiality.
  • Develop and manage systems for gathering, storing, and retrieving health information in a manner that is compliant with federal, state, and local regulations.
  • Train healthcare staff on the proper handling of health information and the use of health information systems.
  • Prepare reports on patient data to assist healthcare providers in managing patient care and improving treatment outcomes.
  • Implement and oversee electronic health records (EHR) systems, ensuring they meet the needs of healthcare providers and comply with all regulatory standards.

HIM Specialist Salary & Outlook

Factors influencing a Health Information Management (HIM) Specialist’s salary include years of experience, specialization within HIM fields, such as coding or data analysis, the complexity of their work environment (e.g., large hospital vs. small clinic), and the demand for HIM professionals in the healthcare sector.

  • Median Annual Salary: $65,625 ($31.55/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $102,000 ($49.04/hour)

The employment of HIM specialists is expected to grow faster than average over the next decade.

This growth is driven by the increasing digitization of medical records, the expansion of healthcare services, and the need for data management and security, making HIM Specialists essential for organizing, managing, and protecting patient information in compliance with healthcare laws and regulations.

HIM Specialist Job Requirements

Education: A HIM Specialist typically holds a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Health Information Management or a related field such as healthcare administration or information technology. Coursework often includes medical terminology, anatomy, healthcare data management, privacy laws, and information technology. Strong emphasis is placed on understanding electronic health record systems, coding, and classification systems, as well as legal aspects of health information. Advanced degrees may focus on strategic management, policy development, and advanced informatics.

Experience: HIM Specialists typically come with a rich background in health information management, having progressed through on-the-job training and specialized training programs. Their experience often spans managing patient records, ensuring data accuracy, and understanding complex healthcare systems. These professionals have honed their skills in coding, data analysis, and compliance, often through hands-on roles that have gradually increased in responsibility. Continuous professional development is key, with many having undergone extensive training in electronic health record systems and healthcare privacy laws, preparing them to handle the intricacies of health information management effectively.

Certifications & Licenses: Certifications beneficial for a HIM Specialist include the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) and the Certified Professional Coder (CPC). Some roles may require or prefer candidates with the Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) certification. No specific licenses are typically required for this position.

HIM Specialist Skills

Medical Coding: Accurate translation of medical diagnoses, procedures, and equipment into standardized codes is essential for billing and documentation. HIM Specialists ensure these codes are correctly applied to comply with federal regulations and to streamline billing processes.

Electronic Health Records Management: HIM Specialists organize, secure, and update patient data in digital formats, ensuring accurate and timely access for medical professionals and authorized personnel. Their role requires a meticulous attention to healthcare informatics standards and privacy laws to uphold the integrity and confidentiality of sensitive information.

Health Information Privacy: By applying federal and state regulations, such as HIPAA, HIM Specialists protect patient records from unauthorized access or breaches. They also train healthcare staff on privacy policies and monitor compliance, crucial for maintaining the integrity of health data management systems.

Data Quality Management: HIM Specialists validate and cross-verify information across multiple platforms and databases to ensure healthcare data’s accuracy, completeness, and reliability. Their work supports healthcare providers in making informed decisions, enhancing patient care, and adhering to regulatory standards.

Clinical Documentation Improvement: Focused on enhancing the quality of patient care documentation, this skill involves a keen eye for detail and a comprehensive understanding of medical terminology, coding standards, and regulatory compliance. It aims to optimize reimbursement and reduce legal risks.

Regulatory Compliance: HIM Specialists audit systems and processes to ensure adherence to federal, state, and local regulations, safeguarding the integrity and confidentiality of medical data. Their efforts maintain the trust and safety of patients and healthcare providers.

HIM Specialist Work Environment

A Health Information Management (HIM) Specialist typically operates within a structured environment, where the delineation between physical workspace and digital tools blurs. Their domain, often situated within healthcare facilities or corporate offices, is equipped with computers, specialized software for medical coding, and electronic health records (EHR) systems. This setup underscores the digital-centric nature of their role, where the majority of tasks are performed seated and involve significant screen time.

Work hours for HIM Specialists are generally fixed, aligning with standard office hours, though some positions in hospitals may require more flexibility, including night shifts or weekends. The dress code tends to be business casual, reflecting the professional yet practical nature of their work environment.

Interaction with colleagues and other healthcare professionals is frequent, necessitating a collaborative atmosphere. However, the work also demands a high level of concentration and attention to detail, given the importance of accuracy in managing patient data. Opportunities for professional development are abundant, reflecting the evolving nature of healthcare regulations and technology.

Advancement Prospects

A Health Information Management (HIM) Specialist can advance to roles such as HIM Supervisor, Manager, or Director, overseeing department operations and staff. Progression often requires a blend of experience and specialized knowledge in healthcare regulations, data management, and information technology.

To climb the career ladder, an HIM Specialist should focus on mastering electronic health records (EHR) systems, understanding healthcare compliance laws, and developing strong analytical skills. Gaining expertise in coding, data analysis, and privacy laws is crucial.

Leadership roles may necessitate a deeper understanding of healthcare administration and finance. Engaging in projects that showcase the ability to improve processes, ensure data integrity, and manage teams effectively can set a specialist apart. Demonstrating a commitment to enhancing patient data management and operational efficiency is key to advancing in the HIM field.


What Does an Executive Office Manager Do?

Back to Career Development

What Does a Registrar Do?