Associate degrees in medical records and health information technology include courses in technology, health science, classification and coding. General education courses are required in most programs, providing a well-rounded education that allows some choice in the courses you take. Associate degrees typically require the completion of 90 credits, which usually takes two years of full-time study.
Medical terminology is the language of the health information technician. A course in the topic will teach you the correct terminology for major health conditions, medical procedures, common medications and the body's muscular, skeletal, respiratory, circulatory, digestive, reproductive and urinary systems. You will learn to recognize roots, prefixes and suffixes used in medicine, which will help you to better identify terminology.
Laws and Ethics
The trend toward computerized health care records has resulted in more accurate records and improved patient care. However, the electronic compilation of health information has revealed privacy concerns, resulting in government mandates in the industry. A law and ethics course will teach you about state and federal laws, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, and the rights and responsibilities of insurance providers, medical providers, employees and patients.
Coding and Billing
Heath information technology professionals need to learn a lot of coding. Your classes will teach you the latest edition of the International Classification of Diseases, which is used in all United States health care settings. You will learn the coding used for disease diagnoses, causes of death and inpatient procedures. A course in billing will teach you how to use electronic billing and payment systems, including how to prepare and process claim forms. You will also learn state and federal regulations, health care payment methodologies, insurance terminology, and payments from third parties and managed care organizations. Medical coding might be included.
Anatomy and Physiology
A class in anatomy and physiology introduces cells, tissues, basic biochemistry, common human disease processes, anatomical terminology and the human body's 11 systems -- integumentary, skeletal, muscular, nervous, endocrine, cardiovascular, lymphatic/immune, respiratory, digestive, urinary and reproductive. By the end of the course, you will understand the basic principles of anatomy and physiology and their interrelationships.
Health Information Management
A course in the management of health information technology will teach you about effective communication, motivation, leadership, group dynamics and how to measure and manage staff productivity. Although the course is focused on health information technology, the techniques learned are also applicable to managing groups in other fields.
English composition and at least one course in algebra or other math is usually required in medical records and health information technician associate degree programs. Additionally, you will take electives in communication, humanities, math and social sciences. You can also choose such courses as oral communication, creative writing, literature, astronomy and psychology. General education courses typically make up approximately one-third of your graduation requirements.
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