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Health information management clerks, also known as HIM clerks, are responsible for organizing and maintaining medical records. They are employed by private medical practices, hospitals, insurance companies, and nursing homes all over the country, and most work full-time hours. The field is perfect for anyone interested in health information technology. HIM clerks often work alongside doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals, and they usually report to a department head or lead clerk.
HIM Clerk Duties and Responsibilities
HIM clerks undertake a variety of tasks that vary from employer to employer. Despite these slight variations, the majority of HIM clerks are responsible for the following tasks on a regular basis:
Review Patient Records
HIM clerks often review patient records for completeness, accuracy, and timeliness. If they happen to notice a discrepancy, they are required to correct it by reaching out to the patient or reporting it to the appropriate individual.
File and Categorize Patient Records
Patient data is usually stored in electronic databases, and it is the responsibility of the HIM clerk to ensure the data is stored correctly. They enter the data collected by physicians and other healthcare professionals into the database and are usually tasked with periodically updating this database if there are in changes in a patient's health.
Handle Insurance Issues
Most patients have some form of health insurance. This insurance provides them with reimbursement for medical procedures, but it can be complex. HIM clerks may work to resolve insurance and billing issues before they get out of hand. This is usually done by contacting insurance companies to verify benefits.
Numerous laws prevent medical establishments from sharing patient information with outside parties. A medical establishment can only share patient information if they have explicit permission from the patient. HIM clerks ensure the information in patient files remains confidential.
Retrieve Data for Medical Providers
HIM clerks are usually responsible for retrieving patient data for doctors, nurses, therapists, and other medical professionals. This information is usually retrieved from an electronic database and handled carefully.
HIM Clerk Skills and Qualifications
To become a HIM clerk, an individual must have strong proficiency with health information technology programs and at least a two-year degree. The exact skills a person needs to work as a HIM clerk vary from place to place, but companies tend to seek candidates with the following skills and abilities:
- Health information technology background - HIM clerks should have a strong understanding of health information concepts and practices. Knowledge of medical terminology, billing, and organization is required for success
- Data entry - HIM clerks are responsible for entering large amounts of patient data into electronic databases. They must do this without making a significant number of mistakes
- Basic computer skills - HIM clerks should know how to send emails, install and uninstall software programs, use a word processor, and browse the internet for information
- Organization skills - since HIM clerks work with a large number of files and information, they should be able to stay organized at all times
- Communication skills - excellent written and verbal communication skills are needed to become a HIM clerk. Clerks should feel comfortable expressing themselves in a professional and calm manner
HIM Clerk Education and Training
A bachelor’s degree is not needed to become a HIM clerk, but most will need at least an associate’s degree from an accredited community college or technical school. The most competitive candidates will have a two-year degree in health information technology. To earn this degree, individuals take courses in medical billing, communication, and anatomy and physiology, and healthcare statistics. Some individuals may be able to enter the field with just a high school diploma and experience in a healthcare setting.
HIM Clerk Salary and Outlook
According to the BLS, the median annual wage for a HIM clerk is $39,180. Clerks in the top 10th percentile earn more than $64,610 yearly, while those in the lowest 10th percentile earn less than $25,810. HIM clerks, especially those employed full time, usually have access to employment benefits such as health insurance, sick leave, and paid vacation days.
The employment rate for HIM clerks is expected to increase 13 percent through 2026. This is a remarkably high rate of growth, especially when compared to the national average of 7 percent for all professions. As most medical establishments switch from paper to electronic files, they will need professionals who are capable of overseeing and organizing this data.
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Would you like to become a HIM clerk? The following career resources can help you achieve your goal:
AHIMA is a professional association aimed at furthering the careers of those working in health information management. The organization also provides numerous certification and educational resources to its members
part of the MindTap series of publications, Essentials of Health Information Management is a mustread for anyone considering a career as a HIM clerk. The book covers a broad range of subjects related to data and information governance, electronic health records, and data security and integrity
written by Anne Casto, Principles of Healthcare Reimbursement provides readers with an indepth look at the insurance and medical billing industries. Written with all medical professionals in mind (including HIM clerks), the book provides readers with everything they need to know about billing and how it relates to the healthcare industry