CTC students take real-world approach to health information
by Cheree Dye
Aug 07, 2014 | 1687 views | 0 0 comments | 37 37 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Chattahoochee Technical College Health Information Technology students experienced the challenges and successes of a career in the industry this summer. The nine students participated in a simulated project to develop a health information technology department in a hospital setting over an eight-week period.

According to a press release, the project included determining a physical layout, budget, policies and procedures, electronic medical record implementation, process improvement, productivity tool design, employee training and job descriptions. Each student took on a role from receptionist to manager, including holding staff meetings and determining the structure of the office space and policies and procedures that would meet industry standards and legal regulations.

Rhonda Lively, H.I.T. instructor at CTC, said, “This project is important because we teach principles and foundations of health information technology, and they have learned everything from a textbook and we have had some hands-on experiences. With these classes we have brought in all the components of how a health information technology department is operated.

“This helps them when they go into their practicum, where they will work in a real H.I.T. department. From there, they will transition into jobs and we are working very hard to ensure they are ready.”

Anthony Vizzinia, H.I.T. student and member of the class, attributed much of the group’s accomplishment to the consistent level of teamwork maintained throughout the semester.

“There were nine people, and if any one of those people didn’t contribute, we would not be as successful as we have been. My role in the group was the receptionist and to take the meeting minutes and record that and make sure that everything was set up and distributed for other team members. I actually had a hand, too, in designing some of the forms that we used.

“This project gives you a great perspective on how things form from the ground up, how to go into something with nothing and then take it from there all the way to a finished product.”

A career in health information technology offers a variety of job options, some of which include health information manager, medical coder, trauma registrar or release of information specialist.

“The management of patient information could involve updating a master patient index, which includes a patient’s name and their medical record number. It helps a practioneer quickly access patient’s medical records,” Lively said. “Also, H.I.T. includes coding, which is assigning codes to a patient’s chart and that involves informing a third party billing organization of diagnoses and a synopsis of the patient’s treatment. There is also the release of information, which requires a practioneer to know, understand and abide by HIPPA laws. Performance improvement is another aspect and could be training people on the use of electronic medical records. This is important because correct coding and documentation is necessary in order for the hospital to be reimbursed.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports job growth in the field will grow 22 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is listed as much faster growth than the average. By 2022, it is projected an additional 41,000 jobs will be created in health information technology.

Lively said, “One of the reasons for the growth is the transition to the new documentation procedure. It takes a lot more documentation to be able to code in the new process. People will have to be trained. It is going to increase staff because it decreases productivity due to that extra amount of work. We are preparing our students for both of the documentation procedures.”