By Jul DeGeus
“Let me check your records.” A phrase many of us hear when visiting the doctor’s office. But who manages these records? Who makes sure that our medical information is up to date and accurate?
That is part of the job of a Health Information Technician. We sat down with Amanda Carter, Centura College’s Health Information Technology Coordinator for the Chesapeake campus, to find out a little bit more about what it means to be a Health Information Technician:
What made you decide to become a Health Information Technician?
I decided to become a Health Information Technician after I worked in the medical field as a medical assistant for about two years. The job market was constantly changing, so I decided to branch out. It made sense for me to do it because the health care industry was growing larger. Gaining more experience opened up additional opportunities for me to advance my career and to educate people about the ever changing costs of health care.
What advice would you give those considering a career in Health Information Technology?
The advice that I would give those considering a career in Health Information Technology is that even though you don’t have a lot of ‘facetime’ with patients, you are truly making a positive difference in their lives. Health care costs and expenses can be one of the most stressful triggers for patients and their families. As a Health Information Technician you get the chance to help alleviate that stress.
What study aids did you use during your education?
It’s cliché, but my training reinforced that practice makes perfect. I constantly coded scenarios and corrected error reports just to try and trick myself. It helped me to be confident and also taught me to fix interesting and dynamic health care scenarios. It reassured me and gave me positive outlook for my career in the health care field.
What is your proudest moment as a Health Information Technician?
My proudest moment as a Health Information Technician was when I helped an elderly lady with her husband’s seemingly never-ending health care expenses. She was constantly confused and overwhelmed by her billing statements. I knew she needed help understanding them and I offered to explain them to her in a way that made sense. After I took the time to go over them with her, you could hear the excitement in her voice; she finally fully knew what was going on with her bills and was ecstatic. Just hearing her excitement over the phone gave me so much joy. As if that wasn’t enough, she even made it a point visit the office just to thank me in person with homemade chocolate chip cookies. It was the BEST DAY EVER!
Health Information Technologists are part of a healthcare interdisciplinary team and an integral part of the healthcare profession. As a student in Centura College’s Health Information Technology training, students will obtain a vast array of knowledge about the information technology field in preparation for entry into the workforce.
The Goal of Health Information Technology
A health information technician is entrusted with the application of IT resources on health care operations. This objective can be accomplished through use of technology in the management of health care information.
Defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, health information technician:
Medical records and health information technicians, commonly referred to as health information technicians, organize and manage health information data. They ensure that the information maintains its quality, accuracy, accessibility, and security in both paper files and electronic systems. They use various classification systems to code and categorize patient information for insurance reimbursement purposes, for databases and registries, and to maintain patients’ medical and treatment histories. (1)
The employment for health information technology is projected to continue growing in the future. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growth rate is set to be about 15% faster than the average for other jobs. This improvement can be attributed to the increased need for medical by the older generations. There will be a higher demand for health insurance information management because more individuals are benefiting from the reforms on the federal insurance. In addition, more hospitals and clinics are embracing electronic health records, providing extensive opportunities for HIT experts.
The median pay in 2016 for health information technicians was $18.29 per hour or $38,040 per year. The number of HIT jobs in 2014 is estimated at 188,600 and the field has continued to expand. Those who hold a health information technology diploma are eligible for employment as a coder, biller, medical record specialist or health information technician.
1. “What Medical Records and Health Information Technicians Do.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, n.d. Web. 26 July 2017. < https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-records-and-health-information-technicians.htm#tab-2>Source
By Robb Rajnys and Jul DeGeus
With great technological advances, comes great technological responsibilities; like protecting your personal information.
Thanks to the progress of technology, we are living in an age where you can accomplish almost anything with a swipe of a finger. Track your fitness, manage your bank account or even supervise your lights and lock systems at your home remotely; that is, as long as you have a Wi-Fi connection and a charged smart phone. But like all great things, technology comes with a downfall: cyberattacks.
There severity of a cyberattack is only limited to the imagination of the person who creates the virus. Familiarize yourself with common terms and proactive prevention to ensure the safety of your personal information:
Malware: In Latin, “mal” means “bad,” it’s no surprise that malware is the general term for malicious threats, like Trojans or worms, that try to steal and destroy data.
Malvertising: Keeping in mind that the Latin root of “malware”, malvertising is an ad that has been infected with malware. When you click on the ad, whatever was effect the cyberattacker loaded in the coding of the ad is downloaded on your computer.
Password Attacks: Probably the most obviously attack term, password attacks occur when a hacker tries to steal your password for information. Cyber thieves can use a program to access your passwords, or even resort to old fashioned ways: peering over your shoulder to see your smart phone screen as you type in the pin to your debit card.
Phishing: Another term many people are familiar with is “phishing.” This attack targets your email accounts. The attacker sets up a company and requests personal information or provides a link to click on. The website’s information you’re directed to aligns with the information you received in the email, sometimes creating a false sense of security and legitimacy. As soon as you input your information, the hackers can use it as they see fit.
Ransomware: In a nut shell, Ransomware is a virus that will lock you out of all your data- documents, photos, contacts, etc. – until you pay a fee. If you chose not to pay the fee, you’ll have to wipe your whole computer in order to use it, losing all of your data anyway.
Thwarting the Attacks
Never fear, prevention is out there! To counter the above hazards, ensure you install and adhere to the following:
Firewalls: This is a virtual gate, if you will, that can prevent or allow certain traffic from leaving or gaining access to your PC. To increase effectiveness, the firewall should stay turned on, especially if you are connected to the internet.
Antivirus Software with Ransomware Protection: Invest in a good antivirus software that includes a ransomware protection plan; good meaning that you should pay for it. Most free antivirus protection software only monitors issues and then alert you, not take care of the problem. Purchasing antivirus software provides monitoring and proactive protection.
Keep Your PC Up to Date: Most users do not maintain their updates. Updates are important because they’re purpose is to help keep your computer safe. Every time a new malware is developed or and old one is updated, programmers hastily work to develop and push out an update to their consumers to counteract its effects, keeping your information all the more protected.
Email: Everyone on the planet has an email now a days. 91% of cyberattacks stem from email. Be wary of emails you receive that:
- Request passwords
- Request your Social Security Number
- Offer anything “free”
- Alert you with an “urgent” warning or threat of an expiration of an account
- Request credit card information
Everywhere you go on the internet leaves “footprints;” where you shop, where you bank, what you may want to buy, etc. Malware picks up on your “footprints” and tries to trick you by creating emails and pop-up advertisements that are catered to your internet browsing, searching and buying habits. If something look suspect, treat it as such. However, if you land on a website you’re not so sure about or regret downloading a file, there are handy websites to scan files or sites in question.
File Storage: Backup your computer and all data regularly to ensure its safety. Use a secure file housing website, software, or simply copy important folders and files to a USB disk regularly. This minimizes the impact, headaches and helps to avoid having pay a ransomware to get your vital documents.