Medical Records Technician Programs

A medical records technician career is one path in healthcare that can offer decent job prospects and security. The need for recordkeepers is growing, and getting the proper certification can take less than two years.

Trade Schools with Medical Records Technician Programs

Many trade schools and community colleges have medical records technician degree programs that students can complete via in-person and online classes.


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Medical records technicians are the gatekeepers of patients’ personal health information. They are an indispensable part of the healthcare workforce.

All kinds of care facilities employ them to maintain, organize and protect the records of those they treat. They also serve as intermediaries between patients, providers and billing and insurance companies.

Educational Requirements

Most positions require a postsecondary certificate.

However, some ask for a medical records technician degree.

Both programs normally include classes in health sciences like medical terminology, anatomy and physiology. They also cover specific records-related topics such as healthcare statistics, reimbursement methods and medical coding.

Although there are medical records technician jobs that accept applicants with only a high school diploma, employment prospects are best for those with higher education.

Earning the title of a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) or Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR) through programs offered by medical records technician schools is another resume booster.

Salary

The median annual wage for medical records technicians is about $40,000.

Their salary is comparable with other positions in medicine that call for similar levels of education, such as health technologists.

Those who work in hospitals make the most on average. The techs employed at physicians’ offices receive the lowest pay.

Below are average salaries and wages per state.

State Hourly wage Annual wage(2)
Alabama $19.35 $40,250.00
Alaska $27.02 $56,210.00
Arizona $21.93 $45,610.00
Arkansas $19.43 $40,410.00
California $31.66 $65,850.00
Colorado $25.68 $53,410.00
Connecticut $29.04 $60,410.00
Delaware $22.78 $47,380.00
District of Columbia $30.64 $63,740.00
Florida $22.75 $47,320.00
Georgia $22.69 $47,200.00
Guam $16.74 $34,820.00
Hawaii $29.42 $61,190.00
Idaho $23.11 $48,060.00
Illinois $24.74 $51,450.00
Indiana $23.50 $48,890.00
Iowa $22.69 $47,180.00
Kansas $21.62 $44,970.00
Kentucky $21.72 $45,180.00
Louisiana $23.02 $47,870.00
Maine $23.66 $49,220.00
Maryland $27.86 $57,940.00
Massachusetts $28.16 $58,580.00
Michigan $22.08 $45,920.00
Minnesota $27.56 $57,320.00
Mississippi $18.98 $39,470.00
Missouri $23.57 $49,020.00
Montana $22.37 $46,530.00
Nebraska $22.26 $46,300.00
Nevada $20.62 $42,890.00
New Hampshire $22.23 $46,250.00
New Jersey $32.93 $68,500.00
New Mexico $22.44 $46,670.00
New York $26.63 $55,400.00
North Carolina $22.54 $46,890.00
North Dakota $23.36 $48,590.00
Ohio $22.79 $47,410.00
Oklahoma $22.28 $46,350.00
Oregon $25.98 $54,030.00
Pennsylvania $23.11 $48,070.00
Puerto Rico $12.65 $26,310.00
Rhode Island $24.71 $51,410.00
South Carolina $25.02 $52,050.00
South Dakota $23.86 $49,640.00
Tennessee $23.51 $48,890.00
Texas $21.48 $44,680.00
Utah $24.15 $50,230.00
Vermont $23.24 $48,330.00
Virgin Islands $20.31 $42,250.00
Virginia $25.28 $52,580.00
Washington $28.12 $58,480.00
West Virginia $20.42 $42,470.00
Wisconsin $25.01 $52,010.00
Wyoming $25.16 $52,330.00

source: data.bls.gov
Occupation:Medical Records Specialists (SOC Code292072)

Career Overview

What Is a Medical Records Technician?

Medical records technicians manage patient health records. They can work with paper or electronic files.

Techs maintain each record to assure it is accurate, updated and accessible to those who need it. They also use special codes to file information for insurance and data collection purposes.

The work that medical records technicians do is fundamental to the operation of the healthcare industry. A patient’s previous illnesses, injuries and treatments can determine how doctors care for them in the future.

Techs are also in close contact with insurance agents to certify that they charge and reimburse payers properly.

Job Duties

Medical records technicians file and maintain comprehensive health histories for patients. Collected information includes past and current conditions, symptoms, examination and test results, and treatments received.

Some typical duties affiliated with the job are:

  • Reviewing patient records for correctness and updating them as necessary
  • Filing data for clinical databases and registries
  • Organizing and coding the information needed for medical insurance reimbursements
  • Ensuring the security and confidentiality of patients’ personal health records

What are Useful Skills for Medical Records Technicians?

  • Strong organization skills
  • Excellent at time management
  • Attention to detail and quality assurance
  • Good analytical abilities
  • Proficiency with technology
  • A strong medical vocabular
  • Solid written and verbal communication skills

What Types of Traits Should Medical Records Technicians Have?

A basic understanding of the healthcare business model and the language used in medicine are must-haves in medical records technician jobs.

Techs have to comprehend and analyze diagnoses and doctors’ orders to file information correctly. This also affects the way the provider bills a patient and their insurance company.

Communication

Medical records technicians should also have interpersonal skills. Though they don’t often work directly with patients, techs collaborate with doctors, nurses and insurance agents regularly.

They should be capable of communicating with these people effectively. That way, they can maintain files accurately and resolve any discrepancies that arise.

Good with Technology & Computers

Finally, competency with technology is becoming a necessity in medical records technician jobs. Today, healthcare providers usually record and store patient information electronically.

Techs must be technologically savvy to understand the software and databases they use every day.

Detail Oriented

Accuracy is crucial when dealing with a person’s health history. Inconsistencies can affect how patients receive treatment and the amount that they pay for doctors’ services.

To protect the safety of those people and their finances, medical records technicians should be attentive to details.

Medical records technicians have to be careful to file, code and organize all information appropriately.

All records must be up-to-date and include all relevant information assembled by doctors and nurses.

Techs should take note of all instructions and commentary from those who treat patients and ensure all facts and figures are in order in their personal health histories.

Work Environment

A well-organized work area can make a medical records technician’s job easier. Techs have to keep their desks and computers neat and tidy, with all files in the appropriate places.

If their employer still uses a paper filing system, this is especially important. Lost or misplaced files can pose major problems for patients seeking future treatment.

Do All Medical Records Technicians Do the Same Thing?

Medical records technician careers can sometimes take people to specific areas of healthcare.

Coders

For example, some techs may work as medical coders. Their primary job duty is to code patient diagnoses and treatment. This is important for billing purposes and public health databases.

These employees are also liaisons between care providers and billing offices.

Registrar

Another specialized job option is that of a cancer registrar. They review pathology reports, and record the diagnoses of cancers and treatments administered.

They may conduct follow-ups with former patients. Researchers also employ these workers to maintain databases.

Where Can They Work?

Medical records technicians work in virtually all places that provide healthcare.

State, local and private hospitals employ the most techs.

These professionals also have jobs in physicians’ offices and nursing and long-term care facilities.

Some handle files and data for insurers, research organizations and similar businesses.

Can Medical Records Techs Work From Home?

Some medical records technician jobs may allow employees to work from home. The move toward digital recordkeeping gives lots of techs the flexibility to do their everyday tasks remotely. Instead of going to a doctor’s office each day and handling physical paper copies, they may use a computer organize files from their own residences.

How Can Medical Records Technicians Grow Their Careers?

Medical records technicians can combine their experience and knowledge of the medical field with a bit more schooling to advance their career.

A tech might continue their education and earn a bachelor’s degree to expand their qualifications. This can earn them a higher-level position in healthcare.

One position that a records technician may pursue is a medical and health services manager. They oversee the business proceedings of healthcare providers.

They make sure services provided are high-quality and cost-effective. A tech who has worked with medical files is already familiar with related processes and the industry business model.

Their skills should easily translate to this job.

What are Alternate Careers for Medical Records Techs?

If a person decides their medical records technician career isn’t satisfactory, there are plenty of related job fields to explore. A number of these alternatives use similar skill sets and experiences.

A few options are:

  • Medical assistants: These employees have a hands-on role in caregiving. A medical assistant can record patient information, take vital signs, help with examinations, give injections and more. They may also complete other administrative tasks.
  • Pharmacy technicians: A pharmacy tech aids pharmacists as they prepare and dispense prescriptions. They measure the correct amount of medication required, package and label them, and interact with customers during pick-ups.
  • Medical transcriptionists: This position is similar to a medical records technician job. A transcriptionist is responsible for compiling information from a visit based on recordings made by doctors and other healthcare providers. They then add it to the patient’s personal health history.

Career Outlook

More hospitals, physicians’ offices and other care facilities are hiring medical records technicians to serve the growing population of elderly people.

As patients age, they typically need additional medical attention and treatments. Healthcare providers are hiring more techs to oversee those folks’ files.

The increased use of computerized documentation has also risen the demand for medical records technicians. As providers switch to digital filing systems, they need more techs to set up and maintain their databases.