What Skills Do You Need to be a Health Information Technician?

What Skills Do You Need to be a Health Information Technician

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Are you interested in becoming a health information technician but not sure if you have the skills to be successful? If you don’t, the good news is that you will hone your skills throughout your health information technician program as well as your entire career. You can always improve upon your skills. Plus, instructors and supervisors will be there to help you improve upon your skills and advance your knowledge of health information responsibilities.

What Skills Do You Need to be a Health Information Technician?

There are many skills that help you become a successful health information technician. From good communication to teamwork and everything in between, having the right set of skills can make your job easier and more rewarding. Some of the skills that a successful health information technician should master include:

Skill #1: Communication

Part of your job as a health information technician is to collaborate and communicate with fellow colleagues, insurance companies, and vendors. Whether you are confirming a medical code with a medical assistant, sending in a claim to Medicare or ordering supplies for the physician’s office, a strong ability to communicate effectively and efficiently comes in handy.

As a health information technician, you will also need good written communication skills. You will be responsible for updating medical records, transcribing physician’s notes, and managing other medical reporting as needed. An ability to communicate effectively means fewer medical errors. In turn, fewer medical errors means better patient health outcomes.

Another important part of your communication skills involves body language. Whether a patient is in pain when they say everything is fine or your colleague is standing over you with their arms crossed, you can tell a lot more about a person by their body language than even what they are saying out loud.

Skill #2: Active Listening

As a health information technician, it is important for you to listen to doctors, nurses, patients, and insurance companies. Before you respond, make sure you hear what the person is saying, you have obtained the most important information, fully understood the situation and retained the information that is relayed to you. Only then can you properly respond.

Body language also plays a big part in active listening. There are many listening cues that will be evident while listening to patients, but body language can supplement what they are saying, giving it clarity. If you are talking to a patient and they keep glancing over to their parent, they may want to have a confidential conversation without their parents. Body language can speak volumes so listen with your eyes as much as your ears.

Skill #3: Problem Solving

Inevitably problems will arise, and it is important to take a methodical approach to solving them. Whether you encounter a denied claim or can’t read the physician’s notes, it is important to go through the problem completely so you can produce the correct solution.

An analytical person will be able to define the problem, determine the cause of the problem, prioritize the many solutions available and follow through on the implementation of the solution. It is also important to measure the outcome so that further problems consider previous solution outcomes.

Skill #4: Critical Thinking

Even during emergency situations, as a health information technician, you should be able to think rationally and clearly to produce a conclusion. First, it is important to identify the problem, then do your research to satisfy the burden of proof, determine whether the data is relevant, ask questions of all stakeholders to fully understand the problem, identify the proper solution, and either present or implement the correct solution.

As a health information technician, you may receive a denied claim and must do due diligence to figure out why it was denied and how to rectify the situation. You will talk with the medical assistant and physician, to figure out whether the information that was included in the claim was accurate and then resubmit the claim to the insurance company for proper reimbursement.

Skill #5: Attention to Detail

Medical errors can have catastrophic consequences and can cost the medical facility additional resources. It is important to pay attention to your records entries so that a patient’s allergy is logged properly, vital signs are reported correctly, and duplicate tests are not requested. Make sure to proofread as you enter information into medical records, use the tools that the software offers to check spelling and identify mistakes, and consider every detail regardless of how small it may be. Even the smallest error can cause a loss of resources or harm to a patient.

Skill #6: Organization

As a health information technician, you will be part of a larger medical team that keeps the facility running smoothly, makes sure the patients get the best care, and that medical colleagues have what they need to properly help patients. Creating a protocol of patient records organization is important, as is the organization of your workstation and the supplies that are needed by medical assistants and physicians. Everything has a place, and it should be in its proper place so it can be found.

Skill #7: Time Management

You only have 8 hours in a day to complete your duties, so it is important to prioritize. Complete those duties that are important or that might inhibit a colleague from completing their tasks. A health information technician works alongside medical assistants and physicians to complete tasks in a medical office and everyone’s time is important. If there is something you can do as a health information technician that will free up the physician to see more patients, it is a good use of your time. Health information technicians focus on the clerical duties of a medical facility allowing doctors and nurses to see more patients, improving patient health outcomes.

Skill #8: Patience

As a health information technician, it will be important to have patience. There might be an insurance vendor that is stubborn or a patient that refuses to pay their bills, however keeping a calm head and not getting upset will make sure you act professionally and in the best interest of the medical office. With patience comes good attention to detail and the ability to multi-task. You might be on hold for a long time with an insurance company so use your time wisely and organize your desk or double check data that you entered in the computer.

Skill #9: Persistence

There will be the occasional denied claim from an insurance company or Medicare. For the sake of the patient and the medical facility, you will want to get the claim approved. Denied claims are a burden for patients and stop needed resources for the medical facilities bottom line. Sometimes you have to go that extra mile to get something important completed.

Skill #10: Teamwork

Although you may work solo, you will be collaborating and working alongside many other medical professionals. You will work with medical secretaries, medical assistants, nurses, physicians and other medical staff to make sure the facility runs smoothly. It is important to pull one’s weight and support colleagues if they need additional assistance. A good teammate is ready to pitch in when needed and knows how to ask for help if the situation arises.

Skill #11: Work Ethic

It is important to show up on time and do a good job. Employers are looking for health information technicians that are self-motivated and don’t need to be micromanaged. They are looking for team members that take ownership of their tasks and complete them accordingly.

Skill #12: Self-Motivated

Since you will be working solo on many of your duties, it is important that you are self-motivated. The office manager and physicians will have a lot of work to complete so they will put their trust in you as a health information technician to complete your duties the right way, the first time.

Being self-motivated means that you are on time, manage your own workflow and get to the bottom of any problem that you encounter. You also take responsibility, dedicated and dependable.

Skill #13: Confidentiality

An important skill that any medical professional will need to consider is confidentiality. Under HIPAA guidelines, patient information must be kept confidential. Patient information can’t be shared with any third party that is not directly engaged in the patient’s care, without the written consent of the patient. This not only includes medical diagnoses but demographic information like gender, addresses and phone numbers. Abiding by HIPAA is the law and infractions can result in fines and termination.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know which skills are needed to become a successful health information technician, it is time to build those skills to secure a position at your local physician’s office or other medical facility. At ATA College, we take pride in empowering you, so you are successful in your new career as a health information technician. Take the time to learn the skills and knowledge you need to succeed, and employers will be calling you for interviews in no time. Plus, ATA College is here to help with career services and other resources to prepare you for the competitive workforce in the medical industry.

Health Information Technician Diploma
After completing the 8-month diploma program at our El Cajon | San Diego Health Information Technician School, you have the option to continue in the Health Information Technician (HIT), Associate of Applied Science program. The associate degree can be completed in an additional 6 months and contains general education courses, along with advanced courses in billing and coding.

Contact us today to learn more about medical records technician career opportunities offered at ATA College.

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