Skip to main content

A Healthy Demand for Professionals in Health-Care Information

Calling on all people with interests in information, technology and medicine: a career in health-care information may be just what the doctor ordered.

Health-care information (or health-care informatics) is a growing field. Some jobs involve managing medical information, while others focus on the technology needed to keep and maintain medical records.

You might see the overall field called Health-care Informatics Technology (HIT), Health-care Information Management (HIM) or some combination of the two.

Some health-care information jobs are highly technical and can be done alone. Others require direct involvement with people in all areas of the medical profession. Examples of HIT and HIM jobs include medical transcriptionist, medical coder, health-care informatics technician, even chief information officer. Knowing whether or not you're a "people person" is important when deciding on a career in this field.

"This field [includes] people who are responsible for installing and configuring software and making sure the computers and networks are operating properly," says Dean Sittig. He's a professor of biomedical informatics at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Sittig adds that these people might spend a lot of time sitting in a dark room by themselves.

People in this field also teach clinicians, doctors, nurses and others working in hospitals or large medical practices how to use computer systems, says Sittig.

Hospitals, clinics and medical practices aren't the only places hiring HIT and HIM professionals. Insurance companies, pharmacies, medical research facilities and pharmaceutical companies also need employees familiar with both computer technology and medical terminology. Some jobs, like medical transcription and medical coding, can also be done on a freelance basis.

"There's a huge number of jobs in the field, and it's growing rapidly right now," Sittig says. "Over the next three to five years we expect the size of the field to double."

The push to phase out paper medical records in favor of electronic medical records is a big factor behind the growth. Another reason is the fact that we're living in a digital age. Patients want to e-mail doctors. And doctors' offices want to submit bills to insurance companies and be paid electronically.

"People are seeing that there are a lot of different ways to be in health care and use this technology," Sittig says. "We're seeing new kinds of jobs emerging."

One Job Leads to Another

It's not uncommon for people to move from one type of medical job into a HIT or HIM position. Nurses are an example.

"Nursing is a high-stress environment," Sittig says. "Going into medical coding, you can leave that emotional part behind. Technology allows you to work in a new kind of way, and still do rewarding and important work."

Loralie Euverman worked as a medical transcriptionist and a medical coder before becoming a medical transcription coordinator, overseeing 45 employees.

"My personal experiences began in a hospital setting," says Euverman. "I originally started in a clerical position, which provided great insight into the world of health information. Over the years, advancement opportunities arose, and with excellent support and educational opportunities I was able to transition throughout my career."

Eventually, Euverman became an instructor in a medical transcription program. She now also serves as associate chair of the program.

"I tell my students that medical transcription is a start to a great career in the health-care field," she says. "It's not something that you'll do for 15, 20, 25 years like it was in the past. It opens doors and opportunities to advancing your career."

What it Takes to Succeed

Many health-care information jobs require advanced computer skills like computer configuration and software installation. Fortunately, some jobs include extensive on-the-job training.

"The more you can learn about how computers work, as opposed to just using them, the better off you're going to be," Sittig says.

Sittig also suggests students considering a career in health-care information take biology and chemistry classes. He says a working knowledge of medical basics is helpful. An understanding of Latin and Greek may come in handy, too, when it comes to understanding and even spelling medical terms. (This is especially important for medical transcriptionists.)

"I believe it's important to have prior computer skills," says Brenda Edwards. She's a coding and compliance specialist in Kansas. "However, on-the-job training and experience is one of the best ways to learn and retain skills." Due to rapidly changing guidelines in her field, Edwards says it's important to keep up to date with changes.

Edwards is a certified professional coder. She has also taken additional training to become a certified professional medical auditor, a certified professional coding instructor, and a certified evaluation and management coder.

As a coding and compliance specialist, Edwards says, "I ensure providers, coders and staff are using the most current coding and compliance guidelines." She trains clinical and non-clinical staff to make sure they're inputting current procedure and diagnosis codes into the billing software.

Accuracy and strong communication skills are important to all HIT and HIM jobs. A simple miscommunication or mistake in data entry could have far-reaching consequences -- even life-or-death consequences. For example, entering an incorrect lab order, medication dosage or diagnosis code could have dire consequences for patients.

Euverman and Edwards agree that the ability to work independently is another key skill for successful medical coders and transcriptionists.

Salary and Outlook

As with any profession, higher education typically brings larger salaries. "For an entry-level health information technologist -- putting in computers and configuring them -- if you have a college degree you might earn $50,000," Sittig says. "The same job, with a high school degree and some training at a community college, maybe $30-40,000."

Given such a broad field, annual incomes can vary a lot. "A chief information officer at a large hospital system could make more than $300,000," Sittig says. "This is an excellent field with a lot of opportunities, good money and good working conditions. "

Sittig says the future is bright for anyone choosing a career in the health-care information field. "We're right on the cusp of making some really big changes in the way health care is practiced and the way computers are used in the health-care setting."


American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA)
An association for health-care professionals, informatics researchers, and thought-leaders in biomedicine, health care and science

American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)
An association for health information management (HIM) professionals

AAPC (formerly the American Academy of Professional Coders)
This association provides education and professional certification to medical coders

Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI)
"The world’s largest professional society representing the clinical documentation sector"

International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA)
"The world body for health and biomedical informatics"

Stanford Center for Biomedical Informatics Research
This site includes a wealth of resources, including a link to education opportunities at Stanford University

Healthcare Informatics Magazine
The online version of this magazine includes links to news and trends in the HIT field

A Career in Health-care Documentation
More information about medical transcriptionists and getting started in the profession

Back to Career Cluster


  • Email Support

  • 1-800-GO-TO-XAP (1-800-468-6927)
    From outside the U.S., please call +1 (424) 750-3900


Powered by XAP

OCAP believes that financial literacy and understanding the financial aid process are critical aspects of college planning and student success. OCAP staff who work with students, parents, educators and community partners in the areas of personal finance education, state and federal financial aid, and student loan management do not provide financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice. This website and all information provided is for general educational purposes only, and is not intended to be construed as financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice.