Health information technology is a field of study that teaches students about the uses of technology for recordkeeping in the healthcare industry. Computer databases are utilized to maintain patient, employee and financial records, and the medical community relies on these digital databases to keep track of diagnoses and diseases. Insurance and Medicare information is also contained in these databases, and health information technicians use this information to keep track of billing and payments.
Radiologic technology involves diagnostic imaging, which comes in the form of x-rays, CT scans, MRIs and mammograms. A radiologic technician prepares patients for diagnostic imaging procedures, ensuring that they are properly protected from the radiation to which they will be exposed during an imaging procedure. Schools that offer these programs may allow prior college coursework to transfer into the program.
Admission into both the associate's and bachelor's degree programs require a high school diploma or equivalent. Some bachelor's programs may require previous college coursework, as well as for applicants to be registered radiologic technicians or technologists.
Radiologic technology programs often require students to complete clinical experience in order to graduate.
Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Technology
This 2-year program includes topics in healthcare information systems, including the digitizing of the United States healthcare system. Courses also cover financial reimbursement, network security and healthcare legislation. In addition, students learn about the legal and ethical issues facing the healthcare industry, and familiarize themselves with common medications and medical procedures. Other courses in this degree program might include:
- Health information laws
- Health insurance
- Health information systems
- Medical terminology
Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Technology
This 4-year degree program is for currently registered radiological technologists who are looking for an advanced liberal arts education in addition to their radiologic education. Additionally, schools that offer this degree program often require that students complete at least 16 credits of college coursework before applying for the radiologic technology major.
Once enrolled, students study medical imaging, professional behavior and ethics, medical laws and patient care. Students who fulfill their academic requirements and maintain their minimum GPA then move on to the clinical phase of the program, in which they practice radiologic technology at affiliated hospitals. To prepare for that experience, common courses in this degree program include:
- Medical terminology
- Radiological equipment
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical records and health information technicians held approximately 341,600 jobs in the United States in 2019 (www.bls.gov). Due to an increase in the elderly population and a surge in available medical procedures, the BLS projected jobs in the field to grow by 8% between 2019 and 2029. The median annual salary for medical records and health information technicians in 2020 was $44,090, per BLS figures.
According to the BLS, radiologic technologists held about 212,000 jobs in 2019. Employment in this field from 2019 to 2029 was projected to grow 7%--a fast rate when compared to the average for all U.S. jobs (www.bls.gov). The median yearly salary for radiologic technologists in 2020 was $61,900, as reported by the BLS.
Continuing Education Information
Graduates of an associate's degree in health information technology who are interested in certification can become Registered Health Information Technicians through the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). Certification requires an associate's degree from an accredited institution and satisfactory scores on an examination. Graduates who want to specialize in medical coding can obtain certification from the Board of Medical Specialty Coding (BMSC) and the Professional Association of Healthcare Coding Specialists (PAHCS).
Graduates of a bachelor's degree program in radiologic technology are eligible to sit for the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) examination to become certified radiologic technologists. In order to maintain certification, certified radiologic technologists must complete at least 24 hours of continuing education credits every two years.
Prospective students interested in healthcare technology fields may choose to enter into an associate's program in health information technology or a bachelor's program in radiologic technology. The associate's program focuses mostly on medical business office topics, while the bachelor's degree program teaches technical skills for employment as a radiologic or MRI technologist.