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Health Information Technology program receives accreditation, classes enrolling now

INA, Ill. (Nov. 9, 2015) – Rend Lake College’s Health Information Technology (HIT) program received accreditation last month from the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) and is enrolling now for the Spring 2016 semester.

The two-year Associate of Applied Science program is designed to provide students with administrative and technical skills necessary to maintain components of health record systems. The HIT professional is competent in health data management, information policies, and information systems. A professional practice experience at a local health care facility is offered during the final semester of the program to give students hands-on practice working directly with HIT specialists.

Charlotte Henry, Director of HIT, said graduates of this newly-accredited program will receive the best education due to aligned standards between professionals and the college, and will thus have a leg-up on graduates from programs that are not accredited.

“CAHIIM accreditation demonstrates the HIT program has met established academic standards, and provides assurance of the quality of educational preparation and student learning outcomes,” explained Henry. “Employers are assured graduates of an accredited program have achieved a level of quality that demonstrates HIT entry-level competencies.”

CAHIIM accredited HIT program graduates can also obtain the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) professional credential from the American Health Information Management Association.

While traditionally employed at hospitals, HIT professionals are also starting to work in physicians’ group practices, home health care, hospices, long-term care facilities, information technology settings, coding, and HIT consulting companies. Other industries – such as compliance, quality, data analytics, and clinical documentation improvement – are available and will continue to grow as health care needs change nationwide.

RLC collaborates with area health care facilities on a continuing basis to assist with training programs and employment opportunities. Henry said many of these local employers are in need of HIT professionals.

“Students continue to have interest in the HIT program with numbers growing,” said Henry. “With the recent transition to an ICD-10, a clinical coding classification system, health care providers are in need of HIT professionals who are trained in ICD-10 coding, and who can assist with obtaining quality clinical documentation within health records to assign ICD-10 codes to claims for reimbursement and quality purposes.”

Students interested in the program can start in the Spring 2016 semester by taking any of eight general education courses required by the degree program: Introduction to Computers, Health Care Terminology, Statistics, Anatomy and Physiology I and II, Microsoft Access Database, Rhetoric and Composition I, and Principles of Effective Speaking. HIT-specific courses begin enrolling in the Fall 2016 semester.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently 186,300 jobs for Health Information Technicians, a number that is expected to grow by 22 percent, or approximately 41,100 jobs, by 2022. The demand is expected to increase further as the population ages.

Henry said HIT professionals will continue to be vital pieces in the health care industry, and she expects local employment outlooks to be great for future graduates.

“HIT is a value-added ‘bridge’ between clinicians, payers, regulators, patients, consumers, and technology,” said Henry. “With critical skills and competencies essential to building the nationwide health information network and health information exchanges, the skills of HIT professionals are critical to continuous quality improvement, regulatory requirements, and revenue cycle processes, ensuring the availability of accurate health data.”

For more information about the program, contact the Allied Health Division at 618-437-5321, Ext. 1251, or Henry at [email protected].

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