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What Do Health Information Managers Do?

UW Extended Campus November 11, 2021
health administrator and doctor

Health information management (HIM) professionals are highly trained in the business of healthcare. A health information manager is responsible for planning, organizing, overseeing, and following up on all activities related to the HIM department and the integrity of clinical and financial data. They ensure that healthcare providers can access accurate and complete patient health information when and where they need it.

Where do health information managers work?

Health information managers work in many types of healthcare settings, including inpatient rehabilitation facilities, acute care hospitals, long-term care facilities, physician’s offices, public health agencies, mental health facilities, and outpatient clinics. Unlike more technical roles, such as health IT staff or HIM technicians, health information managers have the knowledge and training needed to fill leadership positions and focus on big-picture goals. A health information manager who works in a large hospital system may oversee the HIM department or part of it. Most HIM staff work in professional office environments rather than clinical ones.

What are common job titles?

Following are some common HIM management positions:

  • Health information specialist
  • Compliance officer
  • Healthcare data analyst
  • Privacy officer
  • Meaningful use specialist
  • Coding trainer
  • Business analyst
  • Information security manager
  • Data quality specialist
  • Documentation quality coordinator
  • Release of information specialist
  • Health information manager

With whom do health information managers work?

Health information managers collaborate with physicians, nurses, case managers, chief financial officers, and others. They serve as a critical link between providers, payers, and patients. Experienced health information managers or directors may directly manage the following employees:

  • Medical coders and coding managers
  • Release of information
  • Transcriptionists
  • Clinical documentation improvement specialists
  • Administrative staff and clerks
  • Compliance analysts
  • And more

HIM departments are increasingly virtual; some HIM department staff work remotely from home or at a satellite location that’s separate from the organization’s headquarters. Health information managers must be willing and able to manage and monitor remote staff members.

What are the responsibilities of HIM professionals?

Health information managers are responsible for information governance, or ensuring enterprise-wide health data integrity, privacy, and security. Some of their main responsibilities may include:

  • Implement processes and systems to support accurate and complete medical record documentation
  • Work with physicians to improve the quality of documentation
  • Work with coding staff to ensure accurate coding for reimbursement and clinical care
  • Comply with state and federal laws and standards related to privacy, security, and record completion
  • Track and trend audits and denials from third-party payers and auditors
  • Prepare and analyze clinical data for research purposes, process improvement, utilization management, mandatory reporting, and more

What’s a typical workday like for a health information manager?

There is no “normal” workday for a health information manager. UW Health’s HIM director once said that not having the same day-to-day work is one of the joys of the job. Health information manager roles, responsibilities, and tasks vary by organization, depending on each institution’s goals and structure. However, many perform certain tasks on an ongoing basis:

  • Participate in administrative committees to address topics such as electronic health record implementation and process improvement
  • Prepare department budgets
  • Manage projects
  • Analyze clinical and financial data to look for trends and opportunities for process improvement
  • Draft department- and hospital-wide policies and procedures
  • Report compliance data to external agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
  • Perform continuous quality improvement activities for external accrediting agencies such as the Joint Commission and CMS
  • Work with third-party payers and agencies to comply with audits
  • Provide and oversee on-going training throughout the health system for things such as documentation guidelines, EHR user training and HIPAA compliance

What promotional pathways are available to health information managers?

Take a look at the career map created by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). With experience and education, a health information manager can advance to several positions including:

  • Director of HIM
  • Director of coding
  • Director of risk management

How can I become a health information manager?

HIM employers seek professionals with the right combination of higher education and work experience. More and more, employers are also requiring HIM professionals to have the Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) credential.

Health information managers usually possess a master’s or bachelor’s degree in health information management from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). And because health information managers are expected to understand both the management and technology of EHRs, a Health Information Management and Technology degree can help individuals–like this UW graduate–stand out to employers.

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WHAT’S NEXT?

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Interested in starting or advancing your HIM career? University of Wisconsin offers an online Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management and Technology. Start your journey here.

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Programs: Health Information Management and Technology