Work from home? In health information management, flexibility is reality
Working from home, a flexible schedule and job satisfaction may seem to many people like buried treasure, elusive and mythical.
For Patricia Brown they are a reality.
Each day, Brown creates her schedule, visits physician’s offices and electronically checks and submits offices’ medical records. She seldom travels more than 30 miles from her office – her home.
Brown found serendipity after a layoff from her banking job. One day discovering a College of the Mainland catalog detailing a health information management degree, she chose to translate her data and analytical skills to the health care field. After graduation from COM, the League City mother of two landed her job as a medical records coder for Signa Health Spring.
“I love it,” she said. “A lot of companies are very family-friendly. I meet production goals and quality goals and set my own schedule.”
Forming the backbone of the health care system, health information management technicians document each patient’s diagnosis and safeguard each Social Security number.
A changing field, health information management is rife with opportunity as health care faculties migrate from print to electronic records, a change mandated by federal law by 2014.
“It’s gone from shuffling papers to more data abstraction,” Brown said. “It’s about how to help patients and streamline the process.”
With faster-than-average growth anticipated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the health information management field offers many options for entry.
Individuals can earn a certificate, which usually takes one year, and become a medical billing and coding specialist.
Others earn an associate degree, as Brown did from COM, in preparation for taking the registered health information technician test and overseeing all types of health records. The two-year degree, in addition to serving as a valid job credential, serves as a stepping-stone to a bachelor's degree.
For someone thriving on change, the field is ideal.
Formerly serving as director of health information management at Mainland Medical Center, COM Health Information Management Program instructor Kay Frieze leads an interactive classroom preparing students for a career of change.
Students explore on a HEMA American Health Information Management Association virtual lab, an electronic database that allows them to investigate case studies and dig for information on scavenger hunts.
Frieze also ensures that her students gain real-world experience through internships at facilities such as the University of Texas-Medical Branch or Mainland Medical Center. Students rotate departments from coding to insurance claims to information technology to discover their niche.
COM graduate Julia Solis is in her ideal job as a manager at the University of Texas-Medical Branch overseeing medical records and releasing of patient information. Solis views her role as rewarding and essential.
“It’s private information – names and Social Security numbers. A lot can be done with that, such as identity theft,” Solis said. "We need more employees with education and knowledge."
For more information about the COM Health Information Management Program, visit www.com.edu/him or call 409-933-8414.