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Health Information Management Pros Need Security, EHR Data Skills

Health information management professionals are in high demand as providers actively seek out security, informatics, and EHR data governance skills.

Health information management professionals

Source: Thinkstock

By Jennifer Bresnick

- The health information management (HIM) profession is changing rapidly alongside the evolving needs of healthcare organizations concerned about the quality of their EHR data – and their ability to safeguard that data with an appropriate level of privacy and security.

In a new study published in the Journal of AHIMA, researchers found a significant spike in job postings demanding health IT data security certifications alongside the advanced informatics competences and IT infrastructure skills required to manage health information in the modern digital environment.

Since the advent of the HITECH Act in 2009, the HIM profession has been undergoing a series of rapid transformations in order to keep up with the evolving technical landscape, explained a team of AHIMA representatives. 

A 2015 workforce study found that “HIM professionals anticipate they will spend a lower percentage of their time on diagnosis and procedural coding in the future while leadership, teaching, and informatics were identified as tasks that will increase the most significantly,” the article says.  

As a result, HIM professionals have been making a concerted effort to develop the big data analytics, informatics, interoperability, and EHR optimization skills required to support healthcare organizations across the care continuum.

READ MORE: HIM Pros Can Help Optimize EHRs, Interpret Big Data Analytics

“It is important for HIM professionals to not only meet current requirements, but also stay apprised of the future needs of the field,” said American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon, MBA, RHIA, CAE, FACHE, FAHIMA.

Job postings are already strongly reflecting these trends, the new study revealed.  While operations medical records administration remains the most popular sub-category of HIM openings, healthcare organizations are also looking for specialists with advanced experience in a number of associated fields.

Health information management job openings by specific skill set

Source: Journal of AHIMA

Mid-level openings for HIM professionals with revenue cycle management, coding, and billing skills comprised more than 8 percent of job postings, while 6 percent of advertisements were geared towards experienced health IT infrastructure experts.

Healthcare organizations concerned about meeting the stringent data integrity and information governance requirements necessary to succeed with big data analytics are generally looking for HIM workers at the height of their careers.  Just over four percent of postings sought informatics and data analytics experts with advanced experiences or degrees.

Healthcare privacy and security skills are also in extraordinarily high demand.  As the threat of ransomware and the ever-present risk of data breaches continue to loom large over the industry, healthcare organizations are actively seeking staff with security certifications.

HIM security certification requirements from job postings

Source: Journal of AHIMA

READ MORE: The Role of Healthcare Data Governance in Big Data Analytics

Job openings requiring the Certified in Healthcare Privacy and Security (CHPS) or Healthcare Information Security and Privacy Practitioner (HCISPP) credentials have increased in number by more than 1400 percent since 2014, reflecting a health data landscape fraught with security perils.

Despite the emphasis on new skills and specific competencies, however, most HIM openings still only require a Bachelor’s degree.  Less than 20 percent of postings indicated the need for a Master’s, while just over a fifth asked for an Associate’s.

AHIMA has been diligently spreading the message of change to its members, urging health information management professionals to explore new options to further their careers. 

“AHIMA is working to anticipate the needs of the industry by creating pathways for HIM professionals into emerging careers such as information governance, informatics, and data analytics,” said Thomas Gordon. “This is where we anticipate seeing the most growth for our profession.”

Through a variety of new training and certification options, including a healthcare informatics credential announced in 2016, the society is encouraging HIM pros to proactively prepare for the future.  CAHIIM, the organization responsible for credentialing HIM workers, is also currently converting to an updated curriculum that will better reflect the new generation of opportunities on offer for informatics experts.

READ MORE: HIM, Healthcare Big Data Analytics Skills Increase in Demand

“Existing roles are changing so quickly, and new jobs are being created every day that require HIM expertise,” said Board of Directors President and Elect Ann Chenoweth, MBA, RHIA, FAHIMA at AHIMA’s annual meeting in October of 2016.  “This will require all of us to go beyond the status quo and try something very, very new.” 

“Health information has always been at the very heart of what we do,” she added. “Health information managers are the ones who understand information governance, data integrity, and coding.  We understand analytics.  We understand privacy. We understand how to optimize clinical information in the EHR.  It’s only with this information that our system can achieve higher value, lower costs, and make the experience better for the patients we serve.”

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