Definition

registered health information technician (RHIT)

Contributor(s): Tayla Holman

A registered health information technician (RHIT) is a certified professional who stores and verifies the accuracy and completeness of electronic health records. An RHIT also analyzes patient data, with the goal of controlling healthcare costs and improving patient care.

Although an RHIT is not involved directly with patient care, the job does involve frequent communication with doctors and other healthcare professionals to ensure efficiency and precision. RHITs often specialize in coding diagnoses and procedures using ICD-10, a system used by physicians and other healthcare providers to classify and code diagnoses, symptoms and procedures recorded in conjunction with hospital care. Some RHITs specialize in coding or compiling data for specific diseases or illnesses.

Many RHITs work in hospitals and other healthcare facilities, including physicians' offices, nursing homes and mental health clinics. RHITs are also found in any organization that uses patient data, such as pharmaceutical companies.

Qualifications

To become an RHIT, an applicant must complete an associate degree from a health information management program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM), in addition to passing an American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) certification test. The exam, which lasts three-and-a-half hours with no breaks, consists of 150 multiple-choice questions and covers topics such as information governance, disclosure of protected health information, data analytics and revenue cycle management.

Alternatively, an RHIT must have graduated from a health information management program that has been approved by a foreign association -- such as the Canadian Health Information Management Association -- that has a reciprocity agreement with AHIMA. RHITs must renew their certification every three years and also earn 20 continuing education units during that period. They must also pay a $150 recertification fee.

Salary and expected job growth

Although an RHIT certification on its own does not determine the salary for a job, it can help bolster a health information professional's resume. PayScale, a salary information website, lists the range for RHIT-related job salaries from $25,240 to $51,533.

The job outlook for RHIT jobs is strong, likely corresponding to the healthcare industry's overall growth as baby boomers get older. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for medical records and health information technicians are projected to grow 13% from 2016 to 2026. 

Common job titles

According to the University of Wisconsin, which offers a health information management degree program, someone with an RHIT certification may hold one of the following job titles:

  • clinical auditor or coder;
  • health information technician;
  • healthcare data analyst;
  • cancer registrar;
  • clinical data collection and reporting specialist; or
  • quality improvement specialist.

RHIT vs. RHIA

Similar to an RHIT, a registered health information administrator (RHIA) is an AHIMA-certified health information management professional. However, the two differ in a few ways, such as educational requirements. An RHIA must have received either a bachelor's or master's degree from a CAHIIM-accredited health information management program and pass an AHIMA certification exam. An RHIA also deals more directly with HIPAA privacy and security, as well as data governance and analysis, while an RHIT tends to specialize in data capture and input.

Because of the difference in education and responsibilities, RHIAs earn more than RHITs, though salary estimates vary.

This was last updated in August 2018

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