Top Choices for Health Information Technician Training in Massachusetts

Navigating health information technician training in Massachusetts? Get straight to the facts with our guide to the state’s accredited programs, certification prerequisites and the career advantages they bring. This article zeroes in on what you need to know: where to train, how to get certified, and the employment landscape for Health Information Technicians in Massachusetts, without any fluff.

  • Massachusetts has a robust educational landscape for Health Information Technology (HIT) with accredited programs offering associate and bachelor’s degrees aimed at equipping students with necessary HIT skills.
  •  Prospective Health Information Technicians in Massachusetts typically need an accredited associate or bachelor’s degree, and they often pursue certification such as the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) to improve employment prospects.
  •  Online programs and resources, including certificate programs and continuing education opportunities, are expanding, thus accommodating the increasingly digital nature of HIT roles and offering professionals the flexibility to advance their education and skills.

Exploring Health Information Technician Programs in Massachusetts

Massachusetts, known for its education and healthcare sectors, is home to numerous accredited associate and bachelor’s degree programs in health informatics. Whether you’re just starting your journey or looking to advance your career in health information management, exploring these programs is a step in the right direction.

We will explore the top institutions offering HIT education in the state, such as Bristol Community College, Fisher College, and Labouré College.

Bristol Community College: Division of Health Sciences

Bristol Community College stands out with its comprehensive array of over 150 academic programs at the associate’s degree and certificate level, including options within the Division of Health Sciences. The college’s Health Information Technology certificate program equips students with the essential skills for entry-level health information management positions.

This health information management program lays a strong groundwork in health informatics, equipping students to manage the complexities of electronic health records, patient records, and health data, contributing significantly to healthcare facilities.

Fisher College: Division of Accelerated and Professional Studies

Fisher College offers an innovative online Health Information Technology Associate Degree program. This program offers flexibility for working professionals, with asynchronous course delivery and multiple start dates throughout the year. It equips students with critical skills for managing health information including data processing, analysis, abstraction, compilation, maintenance, and reporting.

Fisher College’s program is a testament to the institution’s evolution from a vocational business college into a comprehensive institution offering quality health informatics education.

Labouré College: Associate Degree Division

Labouré College’s Associate Degree Division offers a range of specialized healthcare programs, including the Associate of Science in Health Information Technology (HIT). This program is structured to accommodate part-time learners, with a curriculum of 71 credits that can be completed over four years. It includes introductory courses and clinical practice, offering students a balanced blend of theoretical knowledge and practical exposure to health informatics.

Becoming a Health Information Technician in Massachusetts

The journey to becoming a Health Information Technician (HIT) is a notable achievement, which necessitates a thorough knowledge of the pathway. In Massachusetts, HITs are responsible for organizing and managing health information data, ensuring its quality, accuracy, accessibility, and security in both paper files and electronic systems.

Pursuing a post-secondary education, for instance, an associate degree in health information technology is a prerequisite to becoming a HIT. Proficiency in medical terminology, coding, and knowledge of healthcare reimbursement methods are also essential. Once equipped with these skills, many HITs in Massachusetts pursue certification as Registered Health Information Technicians (RHIT) to enhance their job prospects.

Education Requirements

Aspiring HITs typically pursue an associate degree in Health Information Management, accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). Some employers may prefer or require HITs to have a Bachelor’s degree in the same field. Courses in these programs provide students with core skills in areas such as professional communication, critical thinking, and healthcare statistics.

Given the complexity of medical coding, the importance of formal education and certification for HIT professionals is underscored.

Licensing and Certification

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers the RHIT certification, which is widely recognized in Massachusetts and across the United States. To become a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) in Massachusetts, candidates must graduate from a CAHIIM-accredited HIM program. AHIMA also allows students in their last term of study or who have completed their coursework but have not yet graduated to take the RHIT certification exam early.

rmation Technology (AS) Program

Fisher College’s Health Information Technology (AS) program offers a comprehensive online curriculum, necessitating a total of 71 credits for completion. This program equips students with the knowledge and skills to process, analyze, and manage health information, developing competencies in health information technology.

Along with its extensive curriculum, the program also features an RHIT Exam Prep Course to assist students in preparing for the certification exam.

Program Overview

The Health Information Management and Technology program at Fisher College provides a comprehensive curriculum that includes practical experiences, allowing students to apply their knowledge in real-world healthcare settings. Throughout the program, there is a strong emphasis on data security and privacy to ensure that graduates can responsibly manage sensitive medical information while complying with industry standards. This hands-on learning experience prepares them for the dynamic demands of the health information technology field.

Degree Pathways and Transfer Credits

Fisher College’s degree pathways offer flexibility to students. The college allows students to transfer up to 90 credits of previous coursework directly to their Degree Completion Program (DCP). During the DCP credit evaluation, the DCP Manager creates a customized program of study based on the student’s academic history.

Employing this approach could hasten the educational process, possibly enabling students to finish their degree within five consecutive 8-week terms.

RHIT Exam Prep Course

Fisher College’s 8-week RHIT Exam Prep Course is an invaluable resource for students preparing for the certification exam. This course provides a comprehensive review of health information administration, as well as regulations and standards pertinent to the RHIT national credentialing examination.

MassBay Community College: Medical Coding Certificate Program

MassBay Community College offers a 2-semester online Medical Coding Certificate program. This program is designed to prepare students for entry-level medical records coding positions in various healthcare settings. The curriculum covers:

  • Medical terminology
  •  Medical office administrative practice
  •  Pathophysiology and pharmacology for medical coding
  •  Medical records management

This provides students with a comprehensive understanding of the field.

Program Overview

The Medical Coding Certificate program integrates computer usage for medical data entry and focuses on insurance and billing practices, providing a well-rounded education for students. The curriculum includes training in medical terminology, coding systems such as ICD-CM, CPT, and HCPCS, as well as coding regulatory issues.

Completion of the program typically takes 3 to 4 semesters, with certain prerequisites required before starting major courses.

Skills and Qualities of a Medical Coder

Medical coders play a critical role in managing health information data, requiring a unique blend of skills. They must be detail-oriented and analytical, possess strong organizational skills, and have the ability to work independently.

Excellent interpersonal skills for discussing patient information, integrity for managing confidential patient data, and proficiency in using coding software, and electronic health record (EHR) systems are also essential for a successful career in medical coding.

Licensing, Certification, and Job Outlook

Upon completion of the Medical Coding Certificate program at MassBay, graduates can take certification exams such as the AAPC Certified Professional Coder Exam (CPC) and the Certified Professional Coder Apprentice Exam (CPC-A). The job prospects for medical coders in Massachusetts are diverse, with opportunities across hospitals, clinics, physicians’ offices, health maintenance organizations, nursing homes, insurance companies, speciality pharmacies, medical suppliers, consulting firms, and national medical coding and billing companies.

The demand for medical coders is expected to increase due to an ageing population requiring more medical services, which contributes to a high demand for these professionals.

Online Options for Health Information Technician Training

The progression of the digital age brings with it an increase in opportunities for online HIT training. Many health information technician roles, particularly in medical coding, can be performed remotely with access to reliable Wi-Fi and high-speed internet. This section explores online associate degree programs, certificate programs, and continuing education opportunities that provide flexibility for HIT professionals to balance their education with their personal and professional commitments.

Online Associate Degree Programs

The University of Massachusetts Lowell offers an online health information technology program, an Associate of Science in Information Technology with specific courses related to health information technology. This program includes key courses that form the program, such as COMP.1130 Exploring the Internet, INFO.1600 Introduction to Information Systems, and PHIT.2030 Health Information Technology. These courses delve into health information systems and technologies used in healthcare delivery, providing HIT professionals with a solid foundation in the field.

Online Certificate Programs

Online certificate programs offer specialized avenues for students to prepare for HIT careers. Labouré College offers an online certificate program in Neurodiagnostic Technology (NDT), catering to students focusing on neurophysiology and the diagnosis of neurological disorders. Such programs provide a focused curriculum that equips students with specific skills and knowledge, making them more marketable in the healthcare industry.

Continuing Education Opportunities

For HIT professionals, pursuing continuing education is vital to keep abreast of industry trends and developments. UMass Lowell’s online Graduate Certificate Program in Health Informatics and Lorman Education Services provide courses that are essential for HIT professionals to advance their expertise in health management and economics.

These programs also keep HIT professionals at the forefront of health information systems technologies, ensuring they remain relevant in the evolving healthcare landscape, especially for healthcare providers.

Financial Assistance and Resources for HIT Students

While investing in HIT education fuels your future, the associated costs can appear intimidating. Thankfully, there are numerous financial assistance and resources available for HIT students, including:

  • Scholarships
  •  Grants
  •  Federal financial aid
  •  Work-study or internship opportunities

These resources help lighten the financial load, enabling students to concentrate more on their education and less on the financial aspects.

Scholarships and Grants

Scholarships and grants provide financial support to students and reduce the financial burden of education. Several scholarships available for HIT students include:

  • HIMSS Foundation Scholarships
  •  Richard P. Covert, PhD, LFHIMSS Scholarship
  •  Dvora Brodie Scholarship Program
  •  Rita Finnegan Memorial Scholarships

These scholarships offer amounts ranging from $3,000 to $7,500 to assist with educational expenses and are based on varying eligibility criteria such as membership in an association, residency, financial need, and commitment to the HIT profession.

Federal Financial Aid

Eligible undergraduate students can avail of substantial support via federal financial aid. Programs such as the Federal Pell Grant Program and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) offer financial assistance based on financial need. Additionally, Direct Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans, and Direct Federal PLUS Loans are accessible to students, providing varying borrowing limits and repayment terms to cater to different financial needs.

Work-Study and Internship Opportunities

Work-study and internship opportunities offer students practical experience and also help in mitigating education costs. However, it’s important to note that not all colleges offer these opportunities.

For instance, MassBay Community College does not offer internship programs as part of its Medical Coding program, potentially limiting students’ ability to offset education costs through internships.