There is a long-standing debate over the most effective method for getting a foot in the door in the healthcare information technology industry. While there are a number of university programs dedicated to the subject, many interested in working in the field have also found success opting for an accredited certification program.
The question of which route will prove more lucrative continues to incite contentious consideration, but many feel that certification programs are the quickest way to break into this exciting industry. So let’s examine the process of becoming certified in healthcare information technology.
First off, you might be asking yourself why a certification in healthcare information technology is important to obtain. Well, with an increasing number of candidates interested in breaking into this unique field, it’s vital for organizations looking to hire to have a clear means of differentiating qualified individuals from other applicants.
According to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, the healthcare industry is among the world’s largest, and most rapidly expanding, employment sectors. In fact, the foundation estimates that the U.S. government alone will spend in excess of $4.5 trillion on healthcare by 2019. The healthcare IT sector continues to experience growth, and according to Healthcare Finance News, the average salary of healthcare IT professionals topped $87,000 per year in 2015.
Having a certification on your resume helps organizations you’re interested in working for gain trust that you possess the degree of knowledge they’re looking for. Certification can be an extremely useful ‘notch’ in your professional development and can help to expand your potential for a lucrative career in healthcare information technology.
The simple fact that you’ve taken the time to achieve a healthcare IT certification also gives organizations confidence in your commitment to the industry and your burgeoning career in that field. Many companies will actually encourage existing employees to become certified in order to increase their skills and demonstrate a commitment to lifelong learning in the healthcare IT space.
There are a number of certification programs focused on the healthcare IT sector. Epic Systems has historically been one of the more popular systems for keeping electronic health records and offers a number of specific certification modules dedicated to healthcare, including operational reporting, hospital and professional billing, and chart deficiency tracking, among many others.
CompTIA also offers a specific certification program for information technology. The CompTIA certification program focuses on skills and knowledge pertinent to the successful implementation, support, and deployment of functional healthcare IT systems in a number of different clinical environments.
The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) offers two distinct professional certification programs focused on the healthcare IT sector. The Certified Associate in Healthcare Information and Management Systems program caters towards young professionals in the healthcare industry. There is no minimum level of experience required for eligibility and the program is designed to increase candidate’s prospects for lifelong careers in healthcare IT.
HIMSS also offers a Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems program, which is designed to increase the skills and knowledge of healthcare information and management systems professionals with at least three years of experience in information and management systems in a healthcare setting. For the full details on HIMSS eligibility requirements, click here.
Getting Started in Health IT
For those wishing to break into the healthcare IT field, there are a variety of certifications available. With the U.S. government predicting the need for more than 50,000 new health IT workers in the next few years, individuals capable of facilitating the implementation of electronic health records systems continue to be in high demand.
While there are a number of university degrees dedicated to healthcare IT, many industry professionals, including IT and security consultant Michael Shannon, recommend online certification programs over more costly, time-intensive higher education degrees. This is especially true for individuals that wish to start gaining immediate experience with implementing electronic health records systems.
The reason for this lies in the university systems tendency to adapt more slowly to a fast-paced and ever-changing technology environment. Shannon laments that, by the time many universities identify the best learning resources for IT, technologies have already changed so much that those materials quickly become outdated.
Certification programs, on the other hand, are often much more adaptable and quicker to respond to innovations in the IT sector. Because they are often module-based, certification programs also prove more useful for individuals that wish to obtain a certification on their own time. For people already working full-time, obtaining additional certifications through a more traditional degree program often proves to be impossible due to time constraints.
Fortunately, most certification programs for individuals with little to no experience in health IT simply require a high school degree to prove eligibility. This article from Information Week outlines eight comprehensive healthcare IT certification programs to choose from.