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Health Information Management Professional

Health information management professionals collect, record, review and manage health information. They safeguard the integrity, privacy and confidentiality of personal health information, and gather and interpret the data on which decisions affecting health services are made.

Also Known As:Coding Specialist, Data Analyst, Health Record Technician, Information Specialist, Medical Technologist, Release of Information Specialist
NOC Number(s):1122
Minimum Education:2 years post-secondary education/training
Employment Outlook:Job openings: turnover plus new jobs due to below average growth in occupation in Alberta 2013-2017
Interests:I S D

Duties | Working Conditions | Personal Characteristics | Education | Employment | Salary | Other Information | Related Occupations | Related School Subjects | Related Field of Study

Duties

Health records contain information about patients' medical histories and courses of treatment. For example, they may include physicians' notes, forms for prescribed medications, input from other members of the treatment team or test results. Health information management professionals manage both the records and the information they contain and provide guidance and expertise to other health professionals across different organizations and care settings.

Duties vary from one position to another but, in general, health information management professionals:

  • translate information from paper documents to electronic records
  • convert a patient's diagnostic and intervention information to a standardized format using an international classification system
  • ensure that every patient's record is complete, accurate and secure yet readily accessible for appropriate release
  • identify and perform appropriate data quality checks to ensure accuracy of records and databases
  • safeguard and release patient information under the provisions of Alberta's Health Information Act
  • collect additional information about patients and their hospital stays to generate data about the patient population
  • use computer applications to organize, compile, sort, group, retrieve, analyze and present health data in ways that are useful for planning, research and education. 

Health statistics are used to inform complex decisions ranging from how to improve patient care to how to allocate resources.


Working Conditions

Health information management professionals generally work a standard work week. Where health record departments are open longer hours, they may be required to work shifts.

A significant part of a typical day is spent working at a computer. Because mistakes could have a negative effect on patient health planning or health care funding, there is considerable pressure to be accurate as well as fast.


Personal Characteristics

Health information management professionals tend to prefer work responsibilities that require a high degree of accuracy, responsibility and attention to detail. They should enjoy taking a methodical approach to compiling and classifying information, participating in data quality initiatives, operating information retrieval systems and responding to requests for information.


Educational Requirements

Health information management professionals need skills and knowledge related to:

  • biomedical sciences (anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology)
  • information sciences and technology
  • the health care system in Canada
  • legislation and regulations governing information security and access
  • standardized classification systems and technologies
  • clinical data integration and management
  • information analysis and presentation
  • ethics and practice.

They may acquire the necessary skills and knowledge by taking a full time program at a post-secondary institution or by taking a distance education program. Graduates of Canadian Health Information Management Association (CHIMA) programs are eligible to write a national certification examination. Employers may prefer to hire applicants who have a related degree or require applicants with a diploma to work towards a degree.

In Alberta, the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in Calgary offers a two year Health Information Management diploma program. The admission requirement is a high school diploma with at least 60 per cent in English Language Arts 30-1 or 30-2, and Biology 30 and Pure or Applied Math 30 or Math 31.   

The Canadian Healthcare Association offers a two year Health Information Management program. Applicants must be employed in a health organization, have Grade 12 or equivalent education, and be proficient in English and with computers (demonstrated through successful completion of an Access course). This program includes practical experience sessions and field placements.

Ryerson University in Toronto offers a Bachelor of Health Administration (Health Information Management) program through distance education. Graduates of recognized diploma programs may enter the third year of the program.

For current information about programs, admission requirements and mature student admission policies, please check post-secondary calendars or websites.

Section revised March 2012

Employment and Advancement

Health information management professionals are employed by:

  • hospitals, clinics and community care facilities
  • Workers Compensation Board offices
  • research facilities
  • government department and privacy commissioners' offices 
  • Canadian Institute for Health Information.

Those interested in travel may find employment outside Canada with the World Health Organization or through foreign recruitment agencies.


Salary

Wages for health information management professionals who are members of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta range from $26.18 to $32.18 an hour (2010). For information about current collective agreements in the public and not-for-profit sectors, see the HSAA website.

According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Professional Occupations in Business Services to Management occupational group earned on average from $28.77 to $55.74 an hour. The mean wage for this group was $38.55 an hour.

For more detailed information, see WAGEinfo.

Section revised February 2012

Other Sources of Information

Post-secondary institution calendars and websites (see Educational Requirements above)

EDinfo website: www.alis.alberta.ca/edinfo

American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) website: www.ahima.org

Canadian Health Information Management Association (CHIMA) website: www.echima.ca

Health Information Management Association of Alberta (HIMAA) website: www.himaa.ca

Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website: www.hsaa.ca


Related Occupational Profiles
Administrative Assistant
Health Information Technology Specialist
Library Technician
Medical Office Assistant
Medical Transcriptionist
Records Management Technician
Unit Clerk

Related High School Subjects
Business, Administration, Finance and Information Technology (Enterprise and Innovation; Financial Management; Information Processing; and Management and Marketing); English Language Arts; Mathematics; and Science (Biology)

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
Clerical and Administrative Support; and Health Care and Medical Sciences

Produced July 2010
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For more information on career planning, occupations and educational programs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website at alis.alberta.ca, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

The information contained in this profile was current as of the dates shown. Salaries, employment outlook and educational programs may change. Please check the information before making any career decisions.


Government of Alberta, Human Services