What is Health Information Technology?

Health information Technology (HIT) is the practice of acquiring, analyzing, and protecting digital and traditional medical information vital to providing quality patient care. Health Information professionals are highly trained in the latest information management technology applications and understand the workflow in any healthcare provider organization from large hospital systems to the private physician practice. They are vital to the daily operations management of health information and electronic health records.

Health information management professionals work in a variety of different settings and job titles. They often serve in bridge roles, connecting clinical, operational, and administrative functions. These professionals affect the quality of patient information and patient care at every touch point in the healthcare delivery cycle. Having skilled HIM professionals on staff ensures an organization has the right information on hand when and where it is needed while maintaining the highest standards of data integrity, confidentiality, and security.

To learn more about the Health Information Management profession go to the American Health Information Management Association's website.

What does a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) do, and where are they employed?

Professionals that hold the RHIT credential focus on the technical side of managing health information, working with software and hardware used to manage and store patient data. They provide the following healthcare services:

  • Ensure the quality of medical records by verifying their completeness, accuracy, and proper entry into computer systems.
  • Use computer applications to assemble and analyze patient data for the purpose of improving patient care or controlling costs.
  • Often specialize in coding diagnoses and procedures in patient records for reimbursement and research.

With experience, the RHIT credential holds solid potential for advancement to management positions, especially when combined with a bachelor's degree.

Although most RHITs work in hospitals, they are also found in other healthcare settings including office-based physician practices, nursing homes, home health agencies, mental health facilities, and public health agencies. In fact, RHITs may be employed in any organization that uses patient data or health information, such as pharmaceutical companies, law and insurance firms, and health product vendors.

How do I know if this is the right profession for me?

Health Information may be a good career choice for you if you:

  • See yourself in a career that offers diverse opportunities.
  • Would like to work in health care, but not directly with patients
  • Have an aptitude for science, but also like management, law, and computers.
  • Enjoy working with professionals: physicians, nurses, lawyers, administrators and executives.
  • Are detailed oriented and capable of independent problem solving.
  • Want a career where you can choose to work on your own, with others, or some of both.

Do I have to apply to the Health Information Technology (HIT) program?

No. You may enter the program in the Fall or in the Spring semester.

In what format will the courses be offered?

At this time, the college offers all HIT courses 100% online.

Can I complete the program in less than two years?

HIT courses are scheduled over a period of two academic years (4 semesters). You will not be able to complete the program in less than two years.

What can I do before I start the HIT program courses?

You will need to complete Medical Terminology (MEDS B60), Essentials of Anatomy and Physiology OR Human Form & Function (BIOL 18 or HEIT B60), as well as Introduction to Microsoft Office (COMP B5) prior to starting your HIT program courses. It is suggested that you take your General Education (GE) required courses so when you are in the program you may focus on the core program courses. An additional suggestion is to visit a health information department in a hospital or other health care facility or volunteer in such a department in order to gain insight into the roles and functions of health information professionals on the job. Contact Professor Heather Shaffstall, Health Information Technology Program Director at heather.shaffstall@bakersfieldcollege.edu with additional questions about the program.

When can I take the RHIT exam?

You will be eligible to write the RHIT exam once you are enrolled in your final term of study or upon successful completion of the program (once the program has received accreditation), and after the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) has accepted your application. While it is important to graduate from the Health Information Technology program, it is extremely advantageous to your career that you obtain your RHIT credential. This identifies you as a certified professional in your field of health care.