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Become A Medical Records Custodian

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Working As A Medical Records Custodian

  • Getting Information
  • Processing Information
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Repetitive

  • $37,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Medical Records Custodian Do

Medical records and health information technicians, commonly referred to as health information technicians, organize and manage health information data by ensuring that it 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.

Duties

Health information technicians typically do the following:

  • Review patients’ records for timeliness, completeness, accuracy, and appropriateness of data
  • Organize and maintain data for clinical databases and registries
  • Track patient outcomes for quality assessment
  • Use classification software to assign clinical codes for reimbursement and data analysis 
  • Electronically record data for collection, storage, analysis, retrieval, and reporting
  • Maintain confidentiality of patients’ records

Health information technicians document patients’ health information, including their medical history, symptoms, examination and test results, treatments, and other information about healthcare services that are provided to patients. Their duties vary by employer and by the size of the facility in which they work.

Although health information technicians do not provide direct patient care, they work regularly with registered nurses and other healthcare professionals. They meet with these workers to clarify diagnoses or to get additional information to make sure that records are complete and accurate.

The increasing adaptation and use of electronic health records (EHRs) will continue to change the job responsibilities of health information technicians. Technicians will need to be familiar with, or be able to learn, EHR computer software, follow EHR security and privacy practices, and analyze electronic data to improve healthcare information, as more healthcare providers and hospitals adopt EHR systems.

Health information technicians can specialize in many aspects of health information. Some work as medical coders, sometimes called coding specialists, or as cancer registrars.

Medical coders typically do the following:

  • Review patient information for preexisting conditions, such as diabetes
  • Assign appropriate diagnoses and procedure codes for patient care, population health statistics, and billing purposes
  • Work as a liaison between the health clinician and billing offices

Cancer registrars typically do the following:

  • Review patients’ records and pathology reports to verify completeness and accuracy
  • Assign classification codes to represent the diagnosis and treatment of cancers and benign tumors
  • Conduct annual followups to track treatment, survival, and recovery
  • Compile and analyze cancer patient information for research purposes
  • Maintain facility, regional, and national databases of cancer patients

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How To Become A Medical Records Custodian

Health information technicians typically need a postsecondary certificate to enter the occupation, although some may need an associate’s degree. Certification is often required.

Education

Postsecondary certificate and associate’s degree programs in health information technology typically include courses in medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, health data requirements and standards, classification and coding systems, healthcare reimbursement methods, healthcare statistics, and computer systems. Applicants to health information technology programs may increase their chances of admission by taking high school courses in health, computer science, math, and biology.

A high school diploma or equivalent and previous experience in a healthcare setting are enough to qualify for some positions, but most jobs for health information technicians require postsecondary education.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Health information technicians must be able to understand and follow medical records and diagnoses, and then decide how best to code them in a patient’s medical records.

Detail oriented. Health information technicians must be accurate when recording and coding patient information.

Integrity. Health information technicians work with patient data that are required, by law, to be kept confidential. They must exercise caution and a strong sense of ethics when working with this information in order to protect patient confidentiality.

Interpersonal skills. Health information technicians need to be able to discuss patient information, discrepancies, and data requirements with other professionals such as physicians and finance personnel.

Technical skills. Health information technicians must be able to use coding and classification software and the electronic health record (EHR) system that their healthcare organization or physician practice has adopted.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Most employers prefer to hire health information technicians who have certification, or they may expect applicants to earn certification shortly after being hired. A health information technician can earn certification from several organizations. Certifications include the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) and the Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR), among others.

Some organizations base certification on passing an exam. Others require graduation from an accredited program. Many coding certifications also require coding experience in a work setting. Once certified, technicians typically must renew their certification regularly and take continuing education courses.

A few states and facilities require cancer registrars to be licensed. Licensure requires the completion of a formal education program and the Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR) certification.

Advancement

Health information technicians may advance to other health information positions by receiving additional education and certifications. Technicians may be able to advance to a position as a medical or health services manager after completing a bachelor’s or master’s degree program and taking the required certification courses. Requirements vary by facility.

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Average Length of Employment
Records Custodian 3.6 years
Medical Internship 0.6 years
Top Careers Before Medical Records Custodian
Receptionist 13.5%
Cashier 8.2%
Server 3.1%
Volunteer 2.8%
Secretary 2.8%
File Clerk 2.5%
Top Careers After Medical Records Custodian
Receptionist 12.3%
Cashier 5.6%
Internship 5.2%
Secretary 2.6%
Server 2.2%

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Top Skills for A Medical Records Custodian

  1. Medical Records
  2. Patient Care
  3. Scheduling Appointments
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Pursued improving the efficiency of existing operational procedures by re-vamping and streamlining the Medical Records Dept.
  • Direct patient contact as well as working closely with physicians in order to enhance patient care.
  • Front desk duties to include answering phones, pulling charts, scheduling appointments, and creating intakes for new patients.
  • Coordinated with attorneys and insurance companies for legal documents.
  • Maintained patient confidence by keeping patient records information confidential; and conducted all activities in compliance with HIPAA regulations.

Medical Records Custodian Demographics

Gender

Female

69.3%

Male

19.1%

Unknown

11.5%
Ethnicity

White

54.9%

Hispanic or Latino

22.9%

Black or African American

13.9%

Asian

5.7%

Unknown

2.7%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

56.3%

French

12.5%

Filipino

6.3%

Japanese

6.3%

Tagalog

6.3%

Hebrew

6.3%

Russian

6.3%
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Medical Records Custodian Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

11.9%

Kaplan University

8.5%

Florida International University

8.5%

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College

6.8%

Florida State University

5.1%

Everest Institute

5.1%

Kennesaw State University

5.1%

Keiser University

5.1%

Saint Petersburg College

5.1%

Florida Atlantic University

5.1%

Marshall University

3.4%

Palm Beach State College

3.4%

Suffolk County Community College

3.4%

San Joaquin Valley College

3.4%

Arizona State University

3.4%

University of South Florida

3.4%

Miami Dade College

3.4%

Remington College

3.4%

South Louisiana Community College

3.4%

Southeastern Institute

3.4%
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Majors

Health Care Administration

16.9%

Business

16.5%

Medical Assisting Services

9.6%

Nursing

6.2%

Legal Support Services

5.0%

General Studies

4.6%

Accounting

4.2%

Criminal Justice

3.8%

Psychology

3.8%

Health/Medical Preparatory Programs

3.5%

English

3.1%

Computer Information Systems

3.1%

Management

2.7%

Pharmacy

2.7%

Communication

2.7%

Insurance

2.7%

Law

2.3%

Education

2.3%

Political Science

2.3%

Computer Science

1.9%
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Degrees

Other

31.0%

Bachelors

26.3%

Associate

22.0%

Certificate

7.5%

Masters

6.0%

Diploma

5.5%

Doctorate

1.3%

License

0.5%
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