Medical records clerks collect and organize patient health information for hospitals, clinics, physicians' offices and other medical settings. To enter this career field, you must attend post-secondary school for health information technology, usually earning an associate's degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics points out that many employers prefer to hire graduates who have gone on to earn professional certification. This step is voluntary, but it represents high standards and a devoted work ethic. Several organizations offer certification. Depending on the organization, a candidate must either have attended an accredited program while in school or he must pass an exam.
Medical records clerks use computer databases to store patient information. They create new files for first-time patients with general identifying information and medical information, like medical history, current medications and concerns. They keep records of appointments and the outcomes of them, such as the tests that were performed, test results and diagnoses. Clerks usually don't come face-to-face with patients, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but they do work closely with physicians and nurses to ensure that all records are complete and accurate.
It's also a medical records clerk solemn duty to be the gatekeeper for a patient's information. Medical records are confidential, points out the Bureau of Labor Statistics, so clerks make sure only authorized people have access to them. They must also make sure that electronic files are protected from hacking. When physicians or insurance companies request files, they obtain the proper signatures and retrieve and provide the necessary documents.
Billing and Coding
Medical records clerks can specialize in billing and coding. In order to do so, they must have a thorough knowledge of medical coding, according to a job posting from the Saint Louis University. Medical coding is a system that uses codes to represent diagnoses, treatments and medications. These codes streamline both the records and the billing aspects of a clerk's duties. Insurance companies use these codes to determine whether to approve medical procedures and prescriptions and, if approved, how much to apply to the bill.
Another specialty available to medical records clerks is that of cancer registrar, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These medical records clerks work exclusively with cancer patients. They maintain records much in the same way they would in any other field. However, an emphasis is put on recording follow-up treatments and analyzing the outcomes and survival rates for research purposes. In addition, they maintain cancer patient databases not only for their own facilities, but also on regional and national levels.