Doctors need accurate and detailed health records that tell them all about their patients' medical histories. This may include information taken during previous visits, test results and notes on any allergies their patients may have.
Health record technicians make sure that adequate records are maintained for each patient, and that these records are organized, stored and available for the patient's next visit.
Health record technicians translate information from a patient hospital visit (both inpatient admission or outpatient visits and procedures) into useable information that is part of the provincial and national databases. This is done by assigning a code for each diagnosis and procedure using a computer abstracting system. This information is used in many different ways, for example, budgeting, statistical reports for other health-care professionals, and government funding of a hospital. Health record technicians must also make sure that patient files are kept confidential.
The Canadian Health Information Management Association (CHIMA) has 2500 certified members nationwide.
Health record technicians work mostly in hospitals. They usually work 35 hours a week and some offices require staff to do shift work. They work closely with all sectors of the healthcare field including doctors, nurses, and administrators, helping them to retrieve patient information to assist them in patient care and decision making.
(a) Personal Characteristics
Good communication skills are essential because the job requires speaking to doctors, nurses, patients and many others. Health-care professionals are well-organized people who enjoy research and statistics. As the profession becomes increasingly high-tech, having an aptitude for computers is an asset.
(b) High School
A high school diploma with an emphasis on English, math, biology, chemistry and computers is essential. Admission requirements for post-secondary should be checked carefully.
(c) Post Secondary
Some colleges offer a 3-4 year program in Health Information Management. The Canadian Health Information Management Association is currently working with Canadian universities in the development of a degree program in health information management. The Canadian Health Association (CHA) offers a two year distance education course for Health Information Services.
Registration and membership in the Canadian Health Information Management Association is required and allows you to work anywhere in Canada. To work in Nova Scotia, registration and membership in the Nova Scotia Health Record Association is required.
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