Seven Top Healthcare IT Certifications
The United States reportedly spends more on healthcare — 17.8 percent of GDP — than any other country. According to the National Health Expenditure fact sheet, health spending is estimated to keep growing at an average of 5.6 percent per year between 2016 and 2025. The projected health expenditure growth rate for 2018 through 2019 alone is 5.9 percent.
One aspect of the increased cost is that healthcare organizations are investing more in IT and data security. Data security is the most critical challenge for healthcare IT managers today. Other challenges include regulatory compliance and quality reporting.
The increased demand for better data security has pushed up the demand for suitably-trained healthcare IT professionals. Organizations such as AHIMA and HIMSS, as well as various IT vendors and associations, offer a number of healthcare IT certifications for professionals seeking careers in this fast-growing market.
In 2016, several healthcare establishments discovered that their data had been exposed in some way or other to ransomware. On the black market, health data is believed to fetch several times more than credit card information. This is why data thieves target healthcare databases — the potential sale price to other bad actors is much higher.
Securing health data is a priority for healthcare organizations and other companies that handle patient health information. While there are a growing number of security certifications available, the following figure most often in job postings:
Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) and Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT)
Both the RHIT and RHIA certifications are administered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). A quick review of current job advertisements supports the claim that RHIA and RHIT are highly sought after by employers in the US healthcare industry.
The RHIT certification validates the ability to confirm the quality of medical records for completeness and accuracy, and to employ software applications to achieve the following: 1) assimilate and analyse patient records in order to enhance patient care and manage costs, 2) code medical diagnoses and procedures to facilitate research and reimbursement, and 3) gather and maintain information related to cancer patients.
Though RHITs usually work in hospitals, they also work at any organization that needs to handle health information and patient data. To become an RHIT, candidates must complete a CAHIIM-accredited HIM program at an associate-degree level, or graduate from an HIM program approved by a foreign association that is in a reciprocal agreement with AHIMA.
According to AHIMA, the RHIA-certified professional is "a critical link between care providers, payers, and patients." An RHIA possesses the skills to manage health-related information and medical records of patients, and health information systems. They also have strong data collection and analysis capabilities and knowledge of classification systems and medical terminologies.
An RHIA has thorough knowledge of medical, ethical, administrative, and legal stipulations and benchmarks for healthcare delivery and ensuring privacy and integrity of protected patient data. Other common functions include managing people and operational units, budget preparation, and participation in administrative committees.
RHIAs are equipped to work in hospitals, clinics, mental health institutions, long-term care facilities and a range of healthcare delivery establishments. There are also many job opportunities working in education, insurance companies, consulting practices, government undertakings, and pharmaceutical companies.
An RHIA certification can be achieved in one of four ways:
? Complete a baccalaureate-level HIM program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM)
? Completion of a master's-level HIM program accredited by CAHIIM in line with certain criteria.
? Graduation from an HIM program supported by a foreign association that is in a reciprocal arrangement with AHIMA.
? Be an RHIT who fulfils specific HIMR Proviso conditions.
The RHIA certification is valid for two years.
Certified Associate in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CAHIMS) and Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS)
Both certifications are offered by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS). Since these credentials are relatively new, the number of certified individuals is not very high at present.
The CAHIMS certification suits healthcare IT professionals who have less than five years of healthcare IT experience. CAHIMS aspirants generally include IT managers and consultants, systems analysts, and mid-level staff. This certification validates professional understanding of healthcare IT operations and management systems. A CAHIMS credential is a solid demonstration of a candidate's commitment to furthering their career.
Candidates for the CAHIMS exam will need to first have a high-school diploma.
The CPHIMS credential is more advanced than CAHIMS. In addition to many topics covered by the CAHIMS certification, CPHIMS lays emphasis on management and leadership as well as analytical skills. This certification demonstrates expertise in managing healthcare information systems and advanced professional knowledge of an international standard.
CPHIMS is suitable for those working towards senior management roles in healthcare IT. According to HIMSS, a significant number of CPHIMS-certified professionals are employed as managers, CIOs, directors and other senior functionaries in the IT departments of healthcare organizations.
To qualify for the CPHIMS exam, you will need to submit an application for review and have either a four-year bachelor's degree and five years of IT and management systems experience (with three of those years working in healthcare), or a graduate degree and three years of experience in IT and management systems (of which two years should be in healthcare).
CAHIMS and CPHIMS aspirants need to pass an exam comprising 115 multiple-choice questions, of which 100 are scored. Both credentials must be renewed every three years.
Epic certification is valued by employers that use Epic electronic health record (EHR) systems. Epic is one of the leading developers of EHR systems. Several hospitals and healthcare establishments use Epic systems. Epic-certified professionals are equipped to implement and run Epic software modules.
In order to certify, you need to train at the Epic headquarters in Verona, Wis., and be sponsored by a healthcare employer. Practical experience with at least one Epic project is required. Once you complete training, you will need to take a proficiency exam.
Certified Healthcare Technology Specialist (CHTS)
CHTS is sponsored by AHIMA and is available in six different competency areas: Clinician/Practitioner Consultant (CHTS-CP), Implementation Manager (CHTS-IM), Implementation Support Specialist (CHTS-IS), Practice Workflow & Information Management Redesign Specialist (CHTS-PW), Technical/Software Support Staff (CHTS-TS), and Trainer (CHTS-TR).
This certification validates a holder's skill in implementing and handling EHR, including hardware and software selection, workflow assessment, and system installation and testing. CHTS aspirants need to clear a single certifying exam. Though applicants are not required to fulfil any prerequisites, AHIMA does recommend a minimum of six months of work experience or training.
Healthcare Information Security and Privacy Practitioner (HCISPP)
HCISSP is administered by (ISC)�. According to (ISC)�, the certification is "unique because it combines information security skills with privacy best practices and techniques. No other certification addresses the foundational knowledge in healthcare security and privacy like the HCISPP."
The certification validates knowledge of and experience in securing and maintaining confidentiality of protected patient health data and is suitable for IT and security managers, risk analysts, medical record administrators and others who work with health information.
To certify, candidates require at least two years of remunerated, full-time work experience in one or more of the six HCISPP Common Body of Knowledge (CBK) domains. They must also pass an exam. The HCISPP certification is valid for three years.
A healthy outlook
Healthcare IT salaries vary according to role, with those in management positions earning the most. Whatever your experience level, achieving any of the above credentials will open the door to a career that is challenging and financially rewarding.