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Health information managers are the bridge between an individual's medical information and agencies that need to access it, such as insurance companies and government agencies. They safeguard records, ensuring no one has unauthorized access and that appropriate security measures are in place. Health information management involves not only management skills, but also information technology and, to a degree, clinical skills. Accomplishing their job duties requires health information managers to possess certain personal qualifications and skills.
Health information management incorporates information technology to a high degree. Managers must understand computer technology sufficiently to know what threats to data exist and what steps must be taken to ensure data confidentiality. They need to be able to spot security breaches and know the appropriate actions to take, which could differ according to the nature of the breach. As much of the job is computer-related, such as generating reports and reviewing files, basic computer skills, such as typing, file retrieval and data entry, are necessary.
Even a small inaccuracy in a patient’s record can impact his health care or result in a denial of insurance benefits. Health information managers must ensure that the technicians they supervise are properly trained and that they follow procedures for entering data. Regardless of where the data originates, health information managers must ensure the integrity of the data, such as making sure that files are received complete and that they have not been corrupted or compromised.
Patient health records are subject to various regulations from government agencies. Health information managers must be able to comprehend written laws and regulations that are in place to guard a patient’s privacy. These regulations cover topics such as the conditions under which a health information manager may release patient data, required security for written information and much more. The health information manager must then interpret the laws and put them in the context of his own department so that he can ensure proper compliance.
Health information managers must know how to utilize their own time properly, but they also need to know how to manage the time of others. They must know how to set priorities when there is more work than can be completed immediately. Health information managers must know how much data their staff can input in a given period to make proper decisions, such as whether overtime is appropriate or whether the workload can be redistributed.
Personal Interaction Skills
Health information managers must typically interact with a variety of people. If they supervise a staff, they need the management skills to motivate employees, arrange work schedules, evaluate employee performance, and, when necessary, train or discipline employees. Health information managers often interact with hospital administrators, clinical staff and representatives for insurance staff or government health agencies. Some contacts are the health information manager’s superiors, but others are peers or lower-ranking personnel. The variety of interaction means that health information managers must be able to adjust his actions accordingly, such as excluding technical terms if the other party is unlikely to understand them.
Jeffrey Joyner has had numerous articles published on the Internet covering a wide range of topics. He studied electrical engineering after a tour of duty in the military, then became a freelance computer programmer for several years before settling on a career as a writer.