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Become A Public Health Technician

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Working As A Public Health Technician

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

  • Repetitive

  • $52,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Public Health Technician 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 Public Health Technician

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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Top Skills for A Public Health Technician

  1. Public Health Activities
  2. Disease Prevention
  3. Food Safety
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Managed and performed Public Health activities and programs for a base population of over 20,000 personnel.
  • Promoted education and training to 5500+ on variety of public health topics including sanitation, medical entomology and disease prevention/control.
  • Monitored food safety, classifying various levels of violations and implementing appropriate citations, including suspension of operation and follow-up visits.
  • Experience managing private medical information, reviewing medical records and patient care.
  • Managed all epidemiological services in the public health division all while establishing excellent customer service and building a professional rapport.

Public Health Technician Demographics

Gender

Female

58.8%

Male

30.0%

Unknown

11.1%
Ethnicity

White

56.6%

Hispanic or Latino

21.3%

Black or African American

12.8%

Asian

6.1%

Unknown

3.2%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

70.4%

French

11.1%

Tagalog

7.4%

Portuguese

3.7%

Filipino

3.7%

Russian

3.7%
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Public Health Technician Education

Schools

Community College of the Air Force

24.6%

University of Phoenix

9.0%

Trident University International

4.9%

Columbia Southern University

4.9%

Austin Community College

4.9%

Walden University

4.9%

Ashford University

4.9%

University of Texas at Austin

4.9%

American InterContinental University

4.9%

University of South Florida

3.3%

State University of New York Albany

3.3%

Liberty University

3.3%

American University

3.3%

Kaplan University

3.3%

Texas State Technical College - Harlingen

3.3%

University of Maryland - University College

2.5%

Central Texas College

2.5%

Wayland Baptist University

2.5%

Texas State University

2.5%

Park University

2.5%
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Majors

Public Health

25.9%

Business

16.4%

Nursing

10.1%

Health Care Administration

6.0%

Psychology

5.0%

Biology

4.4%

Medical Assisting Services

3.5%

Social Work

2.8%

Management

2.8%

Health Sciences And Services

2.8%

Criminal Justice

2.5%

Human Resources Management

2.5%

Medical Technician

2.5%

Liberal Arts

2.2%

Elementary Education

1.9%

Ecology, Population Biology, And Epidemiology

1.9%

Computer Information Systems

1.9%

Education

1.6%

Medicine

1.6%

Sociology

1.6%
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Degrees

Bachelors

31.4%

Other

22.3%

Masters

20.7%

Associate

14.0%

Certificate

7.2%

Diploma

2.3%

Doctorate

1.7%

License

0.4%
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