For health information management (HIM) professionals who want to have happy, productive careers for years to come, it helps to envision what the future of the profession might look like. As readers of the Journal of AHIMA are well aware, change is already transforming the HIM industry. Now that the majority of documentation is electronic, jobs working with that documentation—managing patient portals, conducting clinical documentation improvement, and analyzing patient data—are predicted to be core HIM functions in the future.
To create this list of six HIM jobs of the future, the Journal consulted AHIMA subject matter experts about trends they are seeing in the field, and compared this insight with HIM-related jobs currently available on job search sites such as Indeed.com. AHIMA’s Career Map was also an invaluable resource in helping to fill in job descriptions, responsibilities, and the experience required for each position.
Director of Enterprise Risk Management: This job is categorized as an “emerging role” on AHIMA’s Career Map, which also places it in the “advanced” category since it requires a master’s degree or higher in HIM as well as at least five years of professional experience. Alternate job titles include “director of utilization management,” or “director of performance improvement.” An individual in this position is responsible for coordinating risk management reporting of incidents as required by the corporate office and external entities; participating with leaders from governing bodies; management of medical and allied staff to improve the quality and patient care delivered. Required skills include knowledge of healthcare performance improvement and risk management programs; knowledge base of patient rights; ability to coordinate and integrate all performance improvement activities in a healthcare setting; ability to maintain confidentiality of patient information; and presentation and data analytics skills, among others. Average compensation for this position is $96,777, according to Payscale.
Patient Portal Coordinator/EHR Analyst: As electronic health records (EHRs) start to reach the market saturation rate, jobs dedicated to managing their maintenance are expected to increase. Currently there are job titles such as “EHR coordinator,” and “EHR revenue cycle analyst,” and “EHR applications analyst.” These jobs have similar job duties and responsibilities and require similar levels of education. Care settings are usually hospitals and physician offices. Typical tasks include: Coordinating patient support efforts; processing patient messages that come through the portal; interacting with team members to follow-up on open tickets and follow-up with patients upon resolution; and track patient feedback regarding the patient portal to identify trends and opportunities for improvement. A bachelor’s degree is preferred as well as healthcare experience, plus a minimum of three years of project management experience. Jobs managing patient portals can offer salaries with an average of $60,000 per year, whereas jobs that involve analyzing EHR data for the revenue cycle pay as much as $125,000 per year.
Medical Scribes: In an effort to combat paperwork fatigue among physicians, many hospitals and physician offices are opting to hire medical scribes to do EHR documentation during patient consultations. Scribes usually are instructed to remain silent when facilitating an office visit as they enter patient information into an EHR with a laptop or tablet computer. Some companies require scribes to be pre-med students or nursing students, while others require just a high school diploma or associate’s degree. As one job description explains: “Medical scribes can be thought of as data care managers, enabling physicians to focus on patient care, most commonly in an emergency room or office setting. Medical scribes, by handling the data management tasks for physicians, free the physician to increase patient contact time, give more thought to complex cases, better manage patient flow through the department, and increase productivity to see more patients.” Most often, scribes are paid on an hourly or contract basis, usually within a range of between $11 per hour to $25 per hour.
Coding Educator or Auditor: As traditional coding—including ICD-10, CPT, HCPCS, and LOINC—becomes more automated, many in the HIM field predict that the role of coding professional will transition to roles with a bigger focus on auditing and teaching. AHIMA’s coding experts predict that such a role could be performed prior to billing, retrospectively, or both—which would depend on the workflow of the organization. This person would also provide education and feedback on audit results to all staff involved in the coding and documentation process (coding professionals, physicians, CDI, etc.). The position would proactively provide education related to coding to keep all staff up-to-date on annual coding updates and any regulatory documentation. This position could also be involved in compliance activities related to coding at an organization. Salary expectations for this are hypothetical, but similar positions currently range from $20 per hour to $63,000 annually.
Revenue Cycle Analyst: This job is designated as an “emerging career” on AHIMA’s Career Map, and several job search sites contain similar job titles, both of which suggest there are ample opportunities for HIM professionals. Many of the available jobs with this job title contain job descriptions matching the Career Map. Job candidates would have “experience in interpretation and analysis of provider contracts; demonstrated knowledge of standard CMS pricing methodologies; knowledge of basic credentialing processes and be familiar with Cactus or credentialing vendor; demonstrated knowledge of provider networks.” Some revenue cycle analysts are expected to have experience with Health Level Seven programming interfaces, databases, and project management. Depending on the years of experience required and location, salaries range from $65,000 to $140,000 annually.
Clinical Charge Audit Analyst: This is another position that goes by many different names, including “charge capture audit analyst,” or “clinical data analyst.” Requisite experience in these positions can include knowledge of correct coding principles of CPT/HCPCS, ICD-9, ICD-10, comprehensive understanding of federal, state, and local coding guidelines and payment methodologies and modifier selection, as well as UB04 revenue codes. Applicable clinical or professional certifications and licenses such as RN, LPN, RT, MT, RHIT, CIRCC, CHC, CPC-H, and/or CCS are highly desirable. Duties include overseeing the chargemaster, with reviews and upgrades on a regular basis. The clinical charge auditor coordinates and reports audit outcome regarding charge errors, percentage of savings or losses for the facility, data processing errors, the performance of the hospital charging system, as well as documentation and justification within the medical record and itemized bill. Salaries can range between $54,000 to $75,000 or more annually.